Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Review: "65" is Lean, Mean, and Much Better Than I Expected

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 30 of 2023 (No. 1919) by Leroy Douresseaux

65 (2023)
Running time:  93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and peril, and brief bloody images
WRITERS/DIRECTORS:  Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
PRODUCERS:  Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Sam Raimi, Zainab Azizi, Deborah Liebling,
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Salvatore Totino
EDITORS:  Josh Schaeffer and Jane Tones
COMPOSER:  Chris Bacon with Danny Elfman


Starring:  Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, and Nika King

65 is a science fiction action-thriller film from writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.  The film focuses on a pilot and a young girl who fight for survival after their starship crashes on a mysterious planet.

65 opens on Planet Somaris.  There, a spaceship pilot, Mills (Adam Driver), convinces his wife, Alya (Nika King), that he should take on a two-year space expedition to earn the money needed to treat their daughter, Nevine (Chloe Coleman), who is suffering from a deadly illness.

Later, Zoic Exploratory Charter 3703 is deep into its journey when it is hit by a mass of asteroids and crash-lands on an alien planet.  The Zoic is damaged beyond repair, and Mills discovers that all the ship's passengers, except one, have been killed.  The other survivor is a young girl named Koa (Arianna Greenblatt), and she does not speak the same language as Mills.  Meanwhile, Mills has sent a distress beacon, and he has also discovered that the spaceship's escape shuttle is still functioning.  However, it is 15 kilometers away (a little over nine miles), resting on the side of a mountain.

Now, Mills and Koa must track across an unknown landscape that they discover is home to dangerous and aggressive creatures.  What the duo doesn't know is that this planet is actually Earth 65 million years ago, and the animals are dinosaurs.  Plus, another danger has followed Mills and Koa from space.

Once upon a time, 65 would have been referred to as a “high concept film,” which is a movie with a premise that can be easily pitched or summarized.  65 is written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the duo who wrote the initial story and screenplay that became the 2018 hit film, A Quiet Place, a high concept film.

65 turned out not to be the hit that A Quiet Place was, but I found it to be a hugely entertaining film.  Yes, it shares elements with another film about humans from another planet, crash landing on Earth, After Earth (2013), and also, Pitch Black (2000), which finds humans stranded on a mysterious planet and facing monsters.  Still, Beck and Woods have so tightly written and directed 65 that I found myself enjoying it even when I was questioning its plot and narrative choices.  For instance, the human characters seem surprisingly unsophisticated considering they come from a race that possesses the technology to span the stars.  Also, Mills uses tech that can track objects in space, but it doesn't have a simple translation app?

The intense dinosaur attacks really don't start until after the 38-minute mark of the film, and I think that serves the story well.  First, this gives the directors and the cast the opportunity to gradually depict the growing bond between Mills and Koa.  Secondly, making the audience wait for the baddest and the biggest dinosaurs can create a sense of anticipation that is satisfied when the most awesome “thunder lizards” finally arrive.

Some of 65's plot and action stretches credulity past the breaking point, but this movie is a pop corn thriller that would be a great choice for a movie night.  For families with children, this film is appropriate for teens, but it is a little too dark and violent and has adult subject matter that is a bit much for elementary school age and maybe even middle school age children.  I love it and give it an unqualified recommendation.  I plan on watching it again, and truthfully, I'm curious about the world/universe in which this film is set.  65 is not a 10, but as far as dinosaur movies go, I found it more fun and entertaining than Jurassic Park III (2001) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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