Released 2023. Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
IMAGINE THE SCENE: VICIOUS DINOSAURS in a pre-historic setting terrorising a man and a girl. Throw in a spaceship and some futuristic gadgets to amp up the action. Could well have been the excited pitch to get this movie green-lit. The end product, sadly, is a disappointingly unimaginative waste that’s not even bad in a good way.
Somewhere in the universe, family man Adam Driver says farewell to his wife and ailing daughter as he embarks on a two-year interstellar expedition to earn money for his daughter’s medical bills. His character, Mills, survives flying into an unexpected asteroid belt and his spaceship crashes on an unknown planet. All other passengers in sleeping pods perish except a young girl Koa. To leave the planet, Mills and Koa need to get to their escape vehicle, which has been flung some distance. Getting in their way are dinosaurs.
There you have it. Mills and Koa fight dinosaurs with some sci-fi weapons in a prehistoric setting. Jurassic Park meets… any generic jungle survivor movie. The problem with movie dinosaurs is they’ve past their use-by date and there’s nothing fresh or inspired here that shows the reptiles have survived their onscreen extinction. The action scenes are pretty formulaic and predictable. The repetitive and episodic nature of the fierce encounters shows a lack of imagination and flair. Were there no other perils for a couple of stranded strangers other than dinosaurs? There should be a million ways this hostile alien planet could kill you.
Despite the little bit of time Mills and Koa spend together, you know from the first moment they meet the movie is going to contort itself in the direction of father-daughter connection, with our hero feeling if he could save this girl he could also save his own daughter. And herein lies the other problem: the movie’s futile and insistent attempt to squeeze a fair bit of manufactured family drama in the breaks between fighting off dinosaurs. Mills watches his daughter's video messages with sadness. He lies to Koa about her family being alive. The emotions are forced and unconvining.
If only they’d stuck to one aspect and really hammered hard they might have made a better, more satisfying movie. Half action, half drama, neither half is anything to write enthusiastically about. Adam Driver plays Mills with a heavy dose of solemnity, never striking the right tone for the role of a shallow muscle man that the movie calls for. Instead, you could feel the instincts of a serious actor in Driver pushing towards a more dramatic interpretation to no avail. All the elements of a B-grade action adventure are there for directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods to make this into a nostalgic throwback of 1950s and 60s stranded hero narrative. In other words, a cheesy (but likely enjoyable) popcorn fare with updated effects. That movie might stand a better chance than this self-serious piece of gloom.
As the duo chalk up one lucky escape after another, and another, you can’t help but think this resembles a video game and the players have bonus lives to spare. When they make it to their escape shuttle after surviving yet another toothy beast, our friends face another threat in the shape of a giant asteroid about to hit… you guessed it, Earth! They’re on Earth! All this time they’ve crash landed on our planet just as it’s about to be smashed by a space rock that would kill off the dinosaurs.
Did you think it was a genius idea, or a surprise? Probably so when they pitched it in the beginning, yet they squandered the germ of an idea without actually doing anything useful or exciting with it. These accidental extra-terrestrial visitors drop in on Earth just before a cataclysmic event. Does their arrival make a difference? Does their visit leave some kind of ramification for the future development and evolution of the human species? After all, they are physically a carbon copy of homo sapien. This alone suggests a meaningful connection. Surely there’s an interesting idea to take further. Don’t hold your breath, though. Nothing curious or thoughtful or original happens. They come, and they go. The earth gets whacked. The dinosaurs die. The end.
The title itself should’ve been a fair indication of what to expect. It refers to the time the story takes place, 65 million years ago. But calling your movie 65 is just a number that means nothing to someone browsing a list for what movie to watch. This quality of blah-ness extends from the opening title to the closing credits.
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