65 movie review: Adam Driver film lacks imagination, wonder – The Indian Express

This film is so half-hearted about itself that it even stops its title at the very unimaginative ’65’. Not ‘Before the Advent of Mankind’ (as its starting sequence proclaims). Not ‘Planet Somaris’ (from which sets off this ET story). Not ’65 Million Years Ago’ (which is where the 65 comes from). And finally not even ‘Here the Dinosaurs Come Again’ (which is what it is actually about).
This lack of imagination extends to the rest of the film, which is written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (the pair who wrote A Quiet Place).
For creatures who lived 65 million years ago, dinosaurs occupy a huge and pretty regular space in our lives since the first Jurassic Park came out. A sequel even appeared and sank just last year.
So how to do the dinosaur differently? Beck and Woods inverse the story in the film’s one original idea. Around the Jurassic era, when humans were of course not around on the Earth, there were other civilisations in distant planets exploring space. Planet Somaris being among them, from where Mills (Driver) sets off piloting an exploration which is meant to last two years. More than an adventure, he is looking to earn enough money to save his young daughter (Coleman) from a mysterious illness.
Before you can settle into the comforting or perhaps discomfiting thought that money makes not just our world go around, Mills has taken off, run into an unexpected meteor shower and landed on Earth. And into the path of some perpetually angry dinosaurs.
Only one passenger, preserved in cryostasis condition, survives the crash apart from Mills, and that’s a nine-year-old girl called Kao (Greenblatt). While Mills’s part of Planet Somaris seems to have effortlessly glided into English with an impeccable American accent, Kao speaks a language he can’t comprehend.
But, never mind. Few interactions are required when the plot needs you mostly to escape one dinosaur after another, while armed with the latest gadgets that Earthlings of today would admire. Apart from those creatures, Mills and Kao must encounter whatever an inhospitable Earth can throw their way: from leeches to falling stones to quicksands to insects that enter throats and reside there.
That said, Driver climbs out of his cynical, cold-ish self to take it all very seriously. Even condescending to let Kao pin a flower to his hair, as she sure enough slips into the role of the daughter that Mills desperately misses. Greenblatt is more of a natural, showing her vulnerabilities, exasperations, fear and later sorrow.
Given that we are familiar with both our dear old Earth, and its well-told dinosaur stories, it’s the interaction between the two that could have set 65 apart. Not many films involve a man and a girl (the tall, lean Driver magnifies the difference) fighting the odds. However, 65 rushes into another danger just when the two come close to having a moment.
For how to retrieve this story from becoming the bore it is, the filmmakers need not have looked further than that master crafter of both dinosaurs and extraterrestrials, Steven Spielberg himself.
He would have advised the filmmakers to look through the eyes of a child, and trust that one feeling which is absolutely missing in this story: wonder.
65 movie director: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
65 movie cast: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman
65 movie rating: 2 stars
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