(Scott) Beck and (Bryan) Woods, the boys from Bettendorf (Iowa) ,have created another great film in their latest offering, “65.” The film stars Adam Driver as Mills, the pilot of a space craft from the planet Somaris, who is embarking on a 2-year run when his spaceship encounters cryogenic failure during an asteroid shower and crash lands on a planet that we will soon find out is Earth, 65 million years ago.
The ship had been carrying passengers in pods, but eleven of the passengers are dead after the crash, including the family of a young girl about the same age as Mills’ (Adam Driver’s) own daughter back on Solaris. Chloe Coleman plays Nevine, Mills’ ailing daughter. He’s being paid three times the going rate to make this long trip; his hope is to earn enough to save Nevine’s life. Alas, that is not in the cards, but the surviving pod person on his ship, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) will, in time, grow close to Mills, despite their inability to easily communicate.
The acting in the film is terrific. Adam Driver selects interesting roles and this is an interesting role, dealing with two people who are trying to come to terms with deep grief, while also staying alive on a planet inhabited by dangerous dinosaurs. Filmed largely in Louisiana and in Coos Bay, Oregon, the end credits also mention Ireland and Australia. Wherever they found the realistic-looking caverns and mountains, the “sets” (if one can call them that) are truly fantastic.
More importantly, the suspenseful beats that beset the characters while they attempt to make it to a still-working escape pod that has landed far from the impact point of the rest of the ship, are truly terrifying. The chasms they encounter look real. The attack by a velociraptor looks real. The imagined encounters—including Koa swallowing a large insect while asleep—are creative and original.
That is the best thing about this “Jurassic Park/Alien/Star Wars” combination movie: it does not feel derivative. It feels real and fresh and new. I’ve now been at this since 1970; trust me. Check it out!
All of the above are “the good.” I enjoyed this film more than the much more generic “Haunt” that the team of Beck & Woods followed up “A Quiet Place” with in 2019. In a month that saw sequels (“Creed,” and “Scream”) galore, this film is the rare indie, stand-alone, not-part-of-a-franchise.
A thinking man (or woman’s) film; I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is also family friendly with a PG-13 rating,
The “bad” of “65” is not the writer/directors’ fault.
The movie got pushed back in its release date from April of 2022 to March 10 of 2023 by Covid. Then, Sony, which budgeted it at $91 million, did not market it properly. I heard almost nothing about the film before it actually launched, slated to open against the franchise sequels mentioned in the paragraph above. It should have premiered at Sundance or at SXSW, like “A Quiet Place” did in 2018.
Some have mentioned that the title (“65”) did not help the film. It tells you nothing about the theme. I was not a fan of the information projected onscreen. Yes, I know that “Star Wars” did it, but saying “Prior to the advent of mankind in the infinity of the universe, other civilizations explored the universe” seemed about as cutting edge as using a voice-over to give us essential information, which generally is not done in modern-day movies nearly as much as in years of yore.
Others have pointed to Adam Drver’s last few films as not box office catnip. They mentioned “Annette,” “The Last Duel” and “White Noise.” With the exception of “The Last Duel,” which looked like a real lemon from the get-go, both “Annette” and “White Noise” will find fans when they stream, IMHO.
I also wanted to share these insights from Beck & Woods in an interview with“The Hollywood Reporter,” because it underscores why “65” deserves to find its following.
Bryan Woods told the “Hollywood Reporter, “In order to sleep at night, we have to believe in a world where a great idea, if executed well, can still break out and get people talking about it. And I do believe that. I absolutely think that can still happen. Inevitably, there will be franchise fatigue. It’s just inevitable when you think about comic book movies, which we’re fans of. They’re done at such a scale that’s mind blowing, and they’re executed so well most of the time. They’ve had a stranglehold on the box office for 20 or 30 years, but there was 70 years of cinema where the only thing people would go see was the Western. The Western dominated 70 years of cinema, and then one day, people were like, “I’m done with the Western. I don’t want to see the Western ever again.” And now there’s only a couple that come out a year, so it’s all cyclical. Things will change, but I believe that there’s always room for a splashy concept that’s executed well.”
From Scott Beck: “And just the little that we can do as filmmakers, we’re always going to be interested in trying to carve our own path and make something new, and not necessarily stand on the shoulders of sequels or remakes.”
Q: You guys said something to THR years ago that’s stuck with me ever since. It was on the subject of John Krasinski getting the spotlight on A Quiet Place, and your thinking at the time was that he’d paid his dues for a long time to get that moment. And in due time, the two of you might find yourselves in a similar position to get a moment like that. Where did you guys develop such a mature mindset about all that? Is it your Midwestern values?
Beck: “Well, thanks for saying so. We had to develop thick skin early on, but we brought it upon ourselves. In high school, when we made these short films and feature films for no money, we would test screen them at the local community college. And we will never forget our first scathing review of one of our films. We were 17 or 18 years old, and at that age, you’re incredibly vulnerable while still trying to find your voice.
And yet it opened our eyes to criticism. You can learn from it as long as it’s a critique. There’s something to pull out of that, and that’s coming from two people who’ve read film criticism for ages from many different outlets. You also learn that you can’t please everybody, and things are not always within your control.”
“65” is a good movie. It will ultimately find its fans. Check it out!