Movie review: '65' spotlights epic sci-fi survival

Mills (Adam Driver) explores prehistoric Earth in "65." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures
Mills (Adam Driver) explores prehistoric Earth in "65." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

LOS ANGELES, March 9 (UPI) -- 65, in theaters now, is an exciting survival adventure with a high-concept premise. It delivers exactly what it promises.

Viewers are introduced to a world "prior to the advent of mankind, in the infinity of space," in which pilot Mills (Adam Driver) accepts a two-year mission to pay for his daughter, Nevine's (Olivia Coleman), medical treatment. Even prehistoric aliens had lousy health coverage.


Mills' ship crash lands on Earth 65 million years ago. Only Mills and Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) survive, and she doesn't speak the same language as Mills, complicating their survival together.

This premise is only slightly less outrageous than Cocaine Bear, though it doesn't have the true story to back it up. Nevertheless, 65 absolutely delivers on prehistoric survival plus space weapons.

The film gets to Earth fast, introducing Mills' family and his predicament all before the title. Even with his alien technology, it's clear how Mills gathers supplies, gets his bearings and plans for his and Koa's survival.


It is obvious that Koa creates a paternal dynamic within Mills. There are hints that things went south for Nevine while he was gone, but not that Koa fills that void.

Mills would help her even if he was a bachelor because that's what a good person does when they crash land in dinosaur times.

In the crash, the only viable escape vessel ended up on a mountain so they have to make it there. Along the way, Mills and Koa must evade prehistoric bugs and dinosaurs.

The small dinosaurs are aggressive enough, but 65 works its way up to the Tyrranosaurus. Writer/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods know the audience has seen Jurassic Park, so they find clever ways to present Mills fighting dinosaurs, often involving his devices.

The dangers keep coming for Mills and Koa as the environment is as harsh as the dinosaurs. Mills climbs a tree that is unstable and all of the terrain is precarious. Beck and Woods capture the epic landscape of prehistoric Earth via craters, caves and forests.

There may be few surprises in Mills and Koa's journey but there don't need to be. It's enough to make the survival exciting. The impending meteor adds a ticking clock for Mills and Koa, as well as for the entire species of dinosaurs, but the dinosaurs' fate has already been spoiled.


The visual effects look good. 65 is not a cheap B-movie. Even in the dark at night, the dinosaurs are clear, which is more than recent Marvel movies can claim.

65 is a standalone story that's just about two sympathetic characters surviving. That should be celebrated when the filmmakers treat the material with such sincerity.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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