Review – Kylo Ren vs Dinosaurs (“65”)

Astronauts crash landing on a planet full of dinosaurs? Been there, seen that. 1977’s Planet of the Dinosaurs and 2018’s Jurassic Planet (aka Jurassic Galaxy). But, how many can boast of having Adam Driver as their primary star?? Hmmm??

Like a cheesy Roger Corman B-movie from the 50’s, we begin in a distant solar system on the planet Somaris where intrepid Commander Mills (Driver) must undertake a perilous two-year journey in order to save his ill teen daughter (Chloe Coleman) back home. Taking a page from every sci-fi movie ever made, Mills’ spaceship runs into an asteroid field (it’s always an asteroid field!) and he crash lands on an uncharted planet, killing every person aboard in hypersleep. . . everyone, that is, except for one lone survivor: Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a 12-year-old girl who speaks a foreign language. Mills, along with his handy-dandy, do-anything mobile computer, determines that his escape jump ship is a few miles away and they can leave! That’s the good news. 

Now the bad news. They’re stuck on a planet filled with every known cast member of Jurassic Park. . . and I’m not talking about humans! Yes, T-Rex’s, compsognathus (compy’s), pterodactyls, and other weird bugs and creatures are all out to have these two for a meal, so they gotta hurry. Meanwhile, grim & grumpy Mills must stop getting injured long enough in order to protect and communicate with his surrogate daughter, while another major threat is looming in the skies above. Written & directed by Scott Beck & Bryan Woods, two guys you never heard of before, as their movies (Nightlight, Impulse, The Bride Wore Blood) are straight-to-VOD fare. I’m guessing they saw Aliens and said, “Y’know, Ripley lost her daughter and then picked up a new one on another planet, why can’t we do that again but with a guy this time?”

It’s pretty much a stock plot that has been done to death from the get-go, but with some decent SPFX and lotsa running away from dinos. Beck & Woods used the tried ‘n’ true action hero’s playbook of getting caught by dinos, shooting your way out, escaping, rinse, repeat. There’s no twist in the story like, a third (or fourth) crew member being alive that causes trouble, the child is really an alien, or the planet they landed on is really Earth in the future (Planet of the Apes, anyone?). There was SO much they could have done with the story, but didn’t. Instead, you’re left with a bunch of nagging questions and eye-rolling moments. Like the last ten minutes, which is so ridiculous and silly I nearly burst out laughing.

I’ll say this, though, Driver and Greenblatt give it their all and don’t phone in their roles. Driver, once he’s on the hostile planet and forced to defend himself and Koa against killer dinos, is excellent. Greenblatt (who looks like a young Daphne Keen) is just as good and pushes herself in a grueling role. So, the acting isn’t the problem, it’s that underwhelming script written by two guys that make underwhelming scripts. What’s funny is Sam Raimi is one of the producers of this movie! Yeah, the guy who gave us the original Spider-Man trilogy and so much more produced this. What? He couldn’t sweeten the screenplay?

**Now showing only in theaters

Jurassic Galaxy (2018)

(aka Jurassic Planet)

Hoo-boy! You want bad? I got your bad right here! Shot on a shoestring budget and with terrible SPFX, this VOD movie is so laughably awful that I swear the screenwriters (Jacoby Bancroft and star Eric Paul Erickson) at one point just said, “Screw it! Let’s make this a comedy!”

With painfully no exposition and backstory, we have to guess that the starshipGalileo has somehow exploded in space, and large chunks of it have crashed on an inhospitable planet below, filled with velociraptors, pterodactyls, and one T-Rex. The only survivors (they had escape pods) are security officer Marston (Erickson), disgraced flight officer Daize (Madison West), convict Flynn (Jonathan Nation, looking like an old ‘n’ scruffy Luke Skywalker), pain-in-the-ass Harris (Doug Burch), and his pregnant friend, Gail (Tamara Stayer). Marston finds out about a rescue shuttlecraft located far away, thanks to his own personal floating R2D2-type spherical droid named PAL. So, off this intrepid band of survivors go to find this shuttle and freedom while constantly being pursued by really, really badly rendered CGI dinosaurs. In fact, in this scant 76min film, about half of it is spent with these people walking, hiking, running, and traveling to and from somewhere. Talk about padding the script!

Anyway, as they get close to the shuttle they’re attacked (again) by velociraptors but saved by a mysterious stranger! They call him Retch (Frankie Ray) and this The Hills Have Eyes-looking guy is the sole survivor of a past mining operation. Can they trust this weird hermit who speaks like Tarzan and is looking at Gail with bad intent? What about all those CGI raptors out there by the obviously photoshopped escape shuttle? And how long can our handsome, wisecracking Marston go on after being brutally stabbed in the gut? Yeah, this movie is as LOL as it gets. Apparently, writers Bancroft and Erickson must’ve banged this script out on a laptop in a Starbucks on a Tuesday afternoon in 40 minutes, tops, with Erickson giving himself all the best lines!

But let’s not forget the film’s directors, the Kondelik Brothers (Jon & James). Aside from their VOD and bargain basement movies you never heard of before (Greenlight, Behind The Walls), it would seem that stuff like continuity, proper camera angles, setting up a shot, and basic filmmaking techniques are merely suggestions. Check out their location shooting: a local public park where you can clearly see marked hiking paths, motorcycle runways, graffiti-covered trees, and cities in the far distances! OMG! They didn’t even bother to cover up or disguise the oh-so-obvious graffiti! LOL!! And then there are the CGI dinosaurs which are laughably and ridiculously silly looking. The acting is amateurish at best and makes you giggle, with the exception of Frankie Ray who is very good, giving you the creeps. This movie is free on Amazon Prime, so if you need a good laugh, here ya go!         

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