Review: There are ‘65’ million reasons to avoid the new Adam Driver dinosaur space flick

A man in a futuristic outfit holding a gun-like weapon and standing outdoors
Adam Driver in the movie “65.”
(Patti Perret / Sony Pictures)
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If you asked the AI program ChatGPT to write a dinosaur/space movie as if Steven Spielberg and James Cameron were trying to make fun of each other, you’d probably still get something more entertaining than the thudding hack job “65,” a movie about as thrilling as watching footage of someone — in this case, Adam Driver and his young co-star, Ariana Greenblatt — on the “Jurassic Park” ride at Universal Studios.

The writers of “A Quiet Place” — Scott Beck and Bryan Woods — are clearly not done with monsters and family and the apocalypse. But this time, as directors too, they’ve decided to take us not forward but back, to when a routine trip went disastrously wrong. Think “Gilligan’s Island.” Not because it’s like “65.” Just because it’s more entertaining than “65.”

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Do you like introductory text that removes that nagging worry that you won’t be expositionally satisfied? Because “65” has that. “BEFORE THE ADVENT OF MANKIND” reads the first. “IN THE INFINITY OF SPACE” reads the next, which is, by the way, set against the backdrop of … space. Just so everything’s clear! And later, after a sentient audience will have guessed from the huge dinosaur footprint that exploratory mission pilot Mills (Driver) has been stranded on a particular planet at a very particular time, here come the words: “A VISITOR CRASH LANDED ON EARTH.” Yes, that “65” refers to the number of millions of years ago. Not, as one might hope, the number of minutes in the film.


Do you like stories about absent dads? Based on the movies, they seem to be an emotional connection between humanity’s meager time on Earth and social systems in long-ago galaxies. (“ChatGPT, add George Lucas in the mix.”) By taking one more gig, Driver’s character not only leaves behind an adoring wife but, more urgently, an adoring and ailing daughter (Chloe Coleman), whose hologram messages of love, longing and increasing sickness are like stabs to his heart as he’s trying to avoid dinosaur teeth stabbing everywhere else on his body. So, if you wanted to give him only one human companion to heighten that guilty-father feeling, out of all the possible cryogenically frozen passengers to survive an inconvenient ship crash, who would you pick? A grandmother? Wrong! “ChatGPT, are you familiar with ‘The Last of Us’?”

A man carrying a weapon walks into a cave alongside a young woman
Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt in the movie “65.”
(Patti Perret / Sony Pictures)

Do you like made-up tongues not translated because it’s cuter when an othered figure learns English? Maybe Beck and Woods just didn’t feel like writing dialogue for the girl, Koa (Greenblatt), that would help establish this child as a person beyond at first seeming like a feral creature and then a surrogate daughter. Dialogue is hard! So instead this poor character gets an untranslated language until she can trigger “aww’s” by learning the words “home” and “family” and, with stick figures, inventing cave art.

Do you think Adam Driver can do anything? He might have thought that too, when signing on for this.

Do you believe that dinosaurs have long since outlived their CGI-rendered ability to instill awe and terror? Because the filmmakers seem pretty convinced 172 “Jurassic Park” movies haven’t already been made. Sometimes that kind of innocence inspires reinvention. Sometimes it just means that once majestic, still mysterious and endlessly fascinating creatures begin to feel like faceless goons in a video game.

Do you occasionally wish that studios would run dank-looking movies that seem stripped of color through a Snapchat-like filter that would add bright, rainbow-hued tails, faces, starbursts, pizzazz-y augmentations and the like? I’m not saying there are quickie backlot black-and-white adventure movies from 90 years ago with more visual breadth, color range and compositional tension than “65,” but, OK, well, yes, I am saying that.


Is “65” a hall-of-fame bad movie? No, and that may be its problem. It’s just pedestrian dumb and dull. It drops humans from eons away and ago into an extinction-level event, and instead of being full-on weird and wondrous about it, prefers to be utterly imitative and complacent. Way to extinguish yourself.


Rated: PG-13, for intense sci-fi action and peril, and brief bloody images

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: In general release