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65’s unoriginality is saved by its spectacle

Isaac reviews 65, starring Adam Driver, and discusses whether it prevails despite its use of overused prehistoric tropes.

By Isaac Woolley, Public Policy MSc, Masters Student

This film’s tropes and cliches feel as though they’ve been around since the Cretaceous period, but it does enough in between to make it worthwhile viewing.

65 // Courtesy of IMDB and Sony Pictures

Mills (Adam Driver) is piloting a long-haul spaceflight when he crash-lands on an unknown planet, which turns out to be Earth 65 million years ago. He discovers a lone surviving passenger, a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt). The two must make a perilous journey to the ship’s escape vessel, fighting to survive on a planet still ruled by hostile reptiles.

Some of you may have noticed this plot is almost identical to the 2016 film After Earth, which saw the exact same situation befall Will and Jaden Smith, who instead crash-land on earth in the future. This draws attention to the big pitfall of 65: it isn’t really anything we haven’t seen before.

Its greatest distinction from After Earth (2013) is the time period, and by extension, the dinosaurs.

65 // Courtesy of IMDB and Sony Pictures

Ever since Jurassic Park (1993), Hollywood has struggled to equal Steven Spielberg’s intimidating depiction of these ever-popular creatures. That series’ sequels, along with the Jurassic World films, all too often saturated the screen with so many CGI beasts they lost all novelty.

65 thankfully takes its queues from Spielberg, teasing the inevitable night-time T-rex encounter with all the dramatic lighting and throbbing sound design modern cinema can muster.

There’s something old-school about having humans interact with dinosaurs in their original time period, a premise which feels straight out of 1950s sci-fi. This impression was furthered by the film’s efforts to make the environment of prehistoric earth as much of a spectacle as its inhabitants.

When the ship initially crash-lands in a dark lagoon, shrouded in mist, it’s all too easy to picture it in black and white with a cheesy superimposed opening title. Despite how it sounds, this is not a bad thing; there is a sense of self-aware blockbuster tradition to 65 which excuses many of its cliches.

65 // Courtesy of IMDB and Sony Pictures

65 takes just enough time away from its CGI showpieces to develop a believable bond between Mills and Koa, who don’t speak the same language and must communicate through signs and signals. Adam Driver’s now-familiar stoicism works perfectly for the father figure who hides how much he cares.

This may also prove to be Ariana Greenblatt’s breakout performance, as she rises to the challenge of her first major film role with ease. The pair do more than enough to get the film over the line as far as creating two relatable human characters root for, something which Will and Jaden Smith were criticised for failing to do in After Earth (2013). For the continued unanimous praise heaped on the original Jurassic Park (1993), it was not free from its own cliches and narrative conveniences.

65 may not be offering anything new, but it’s a fine romp.

Featured Image: IMDB and Sony Pictures

Will you be watching this new addition to the ever-increasing list of dinosaur blockbuster movies?