Is a twist a twist if it twists right in the first five minutes of a movie? According to Sony Pictures, yes, hence marketing for Sixty five highlighted the part where Adam Driver fights dinosaurs on prehistoric planet Earth instead of answering the question of how he got there in the first place. But the truth left me absolutely giddy.
“After a cataclysmic accident on an unknown planet,” reads Sony’s carefully crafted plot description for Sixty five“Pilot Mills (Adam Driver) quickly discovers that he is actually stranded on Earth … 65 million years ago”.
But here’s the thing: Mills doesn’t find out that he’s actually stuck on Earth 65 million years ago!
[Ed. note: The following interview contains spoilers for 65.]
That’s because Mills has never been to Earth, or even heard of the planet. There is no time travel Sixty five; the pilot’s accident was simply a work accident during a routine ship mission across the galaxy, coordinated by beings from another planet. The driver is not “human”, he is an alien!
Finding an organic way back to the time of the dinosaurs was a naturally complicated endeavor, according to writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, and even more so when they came up with the idea that Mills would arrive on Earth from a completely different civilization. .
“We needed it to feel grounded,” Beck says of the challenge. “There are crazy ideas that have been left on the page, like Adam speaking a different language or different facial modifications. [to make him look more alien]. But we needed to find a combination where we didn’t lose the audience in the first five minutes. We always did pressure tests.”
The duo spent a good chunk of pre-production Sixty five weighing world-building options with production designer Kevin Ishioka. The questions ranged from the basics: Has this civilization embraced digital technology or do they rely on analog? — to the fantastic At one point, Beck and Woods considered a design for Mills’ galactic freighter that would have been made entirely of rock, unlike anything the average moviegoer might immediately see as a spaceship.
“We talked a lot about how the technology in the movie should sometimes be futuristic, meaning more advanced than our technology, and other times go backwards,” says Woods. “We wanted to walk that line between futuristic and retro, a hybrid of old and future. That was the benchmark for us.”
The opening scenes of the film, set on an alien beach covered in spiraling vertical rock formations, only give us hints of a larger world located in the far reaches of space. The focus is more on Mills’ soul-searching: the only reason he took his shipping job was to earn enough money for medicine that may or may not save his terminally ill daughter. When everything goes wrong (thanks to an untimely piece of space rock sending his ship spiraling toward Earth, a precursor to a much larger meteor heading for the planet), Mills’ fight for survival is immediately put under pressure. due to the need to get home to her son and protect another survivor, a girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), who was also stranded in the Cretaceous.
“We’re trying to show more than explain,” Driver tells Polygon, “but you know what the relationship means to him in his reluctance to talk when faced with someone who, in every detail, reminds him of his past.”
Mills is not a conventional hero. While Jurassic Park emerges as an obvious sci-fi touchstone for the film, Driver compares Mills to Harry Dean Stanton in An alien. He’s just a blue-collar guy punching a clock. “It could almost be considered the equivalent of a truck driver. It is not a planet where being a pilot is foreign to them. It’s not a hierarchical thing. [because he’s an alien]. This is what he does.”
While Sixty five gets pulpy, Beck and Woods also cite An alien as a way to root the possibly far-fetched arrangement into something real. While they created a new planet and sculpted a world where aliens like Mills ship cryogenically frozen humans as cargo, they finally land him on a familiar planet where he faces creatures the audience already knows a lot about. That meant respecting the known science of dinosaurs while also immersing yourself in science fiction.
“We had a Venn diagram where one circle was about science,” says Woods, “and then on the other circle of the Venn diagram, we had the Ridley Scott diagram. An alien, one of the scariest movies ever made. So, we just wanted to combine some interesting science and also something scary.”