Have you started to get exasperated with how self-serious Hollywood has become? If so, we’d recommend 65, the new movie written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, to ease your frustrations. 65 is a fun, scary, action-packed science fiction movie, plus it’s got more dinosaurs than the British museum. What’s not to love?
The monster movie tells the story of Mills (Adam Driver), a sort of intergalactic bus driver who, after a run-in with an unexpected asteroid, crashes his space bus on Earth 65 million years ago (hence the title). With the crew dead, Mills and his fellow survivor Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) must make a dangerous journey across a dinosaur-filled forest to an escape pod that could be their salvation.
There’s a little more going on that we don’t want to spoil here, but there’s an elegance to how stripped-back 65’s story is. There are no real subplots; it’s just a thrilling action movie about humans (technically aliens) trying to survive against some of the most dangerous predators ever.
What impressed me most about 65 is that it’s an unashamed B-movie. By which I mean it revels in its slightly silly premise but has the good grace to approach the idea with a laudable amount of gravitas that really works in the film’s favour.
It would have been easy for Beck and Woods to write a facetious story full of nods and winks to the camera about how ludicrous the film’s core concept is, but they don’t. Instead, both Koa and Mills treat their predicament with the urgency and horror that being stranded on an alien world would engender if it happened to you.
What I’m saying is that Mills and Koa act like people, not like cartoon characters who are constantly making one-liners. For most of the film, they seem terrified by their situation, which is super refreshing in an age where irreverence reigns supreme.
I think the fact Koa and Mills are so scared gives the audience permission to be scared, and it helps you overcome the inherent silliness in an alien versus dinosaurs movie (also, that would have been a great title). Not that the film’s self-serious or grim, there’s natural humour to it. It’s just Mills and Koa aren’t spewing one-liners like they’ve just watched a Die Hard marathon.
Honestly, if I had to say why I liked the film so much, it’s because, in many ways, it’s the anti-Jurassic Park. The Steven Spielberg movie is a masterpiece for sure, but it wanted you to feel awe when you saw the dinosaurs.
Think of how Alan Grant reacts when he sees a brachiosaurus or how the T-Rex poses after saving the day at the film’s end. The audience is meant to be impressed by these creatures even as they chomp on lawyers and shred Samuel L Jackson to ribbons.
65 has no interest in making you think dinosaurs are awesome. Instead, it exists to remind you how terrifying, remorseless, and dangerous these animals were. There are no moments where Koa and Mills stop to admire the abominations hunting them. They don’t have time, and the closest the film comes to having a ‘Spielberg moment’ like that is hilariously undercut by violence.
I’d be remiss, not to mention the cast as well. We all know how good Driver is, and I’m not about to beat that well-worn horse, but I was really impressed by Greenblatt. Her character has a unique way of communicating, so Koa can’t understand Mills. Greenblatt does a really good job at playing a confused and scared kid who’s trapped on a planet with a man who doesn’t even speak her language.
Now, 65 is far from perfect. You can tell at times it was made on a budget because the CGI’s a little wonky, but I actually think this leads to some cool creative decisions, like a fight in a cave where we see flashes of the battle on an alien scanner. There are other potential criticisms you could throw at the film as well. Obviously, the plot’s a bit thin, and the premise is daft, but none of that bothered me in the slightest.
I had a great time with 65; it reminded me of older, mid-budget action movies I’d watched with my dad as a kid, and I loved that it was an original idea. All in all, 65 is just a well-made movie that delivers on its promise of Adam Driver shooting a dinosaur with a machine gun, and to be honest, that’s all I ever wanted.
If 65 sounds like something you’d enjoy, you may want to give our list of the best sci-fi series a quick read, or maybe you’ll enjoy our best aliens movie guide. We’ve also got articles on Insidious 5, Fast and Furious 10, and Rebel Moon.
65 may not have much going on under the surface, but it delivers on Adam Driver shooting dinosaurs, and there’s a real pleasure in that.