- Adam Driver stars in a new film “65,” which takes place 65 million years ago.
- The problem with that is archeological records show that dinosaurs were probably all dead by then.
- Even if they were alive, they wouldn’t look like what the film depicts.
In the latest dinosaur movie “65”, Adam Driver plays a man from another planet who crash lands on Earth 65 million years ago.
As he scrambles to get himself and the only other survivor of the crash, a young girl, back home, he battles dinosaurs for survival.
It grabs the audience’s imagination, propelling viewers to a world where humans encounter majestic creatures.
But like other Hollywood portrayals of dinosaurs, “65” gets several dinosaur facts wrong, according to paleontologists.
The film’s title is off my a million years
Let’s start with the title: “65” — named for when the film takes place 65 million years ago. In the film, Driver’s character is racing against time because of the impending asteroid strike that wiped out all the dinosaurs.
But scientists no longer think this asteroid hit 65 million years ago. In 2012, the International Commission for Stratigraphy updated the asteroid strike and subsequent end of the Cretaceous Period to be around 66 million years ago, not 65.
“The title speaks to how outdated information can get deeply engrained,” said Micahel Habib, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a research associate at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
“It would be amusing, though probably not very exciting, to see Adam Driver show up 65 million years ago when there would be very little in the way of wildlife that could cause him serious harm, much less eat him,” he added.
Dinosaurs had feathers
When the original “Jurassic Park” film debuted in 1993, the dinosaurs resembled what scientists knew about them at the time, said Danny Anduza, a dinosaur paleontologist who spoke about “65” on his Twitch channel devoted to paleontology.
But in the 30 years since “Jurassic Park”, new research has painted a different picture of what dinosaurs looked like and how they lived, Anduza said.
“One of the major things ’65’ could have gotten right and would have made paleontologists like me and people who love dinosaurs very happy is if they’d actually put feathers on some of them,” Anduza said.
One example is Deinonychus — a bird-like dinosaur that resembles a Velociraptor that shows up in the film.
“We’ve known for about 20 years that these animals were totally coated with feathers. They would have looked like big, weird, scary ground-running birds,” Anduza said. “So it’s just kind of frustrating that these movies are still out of date.”
Dinosaurs don’t look like that
A few of the frightening creatures Driver’s character encounters don’t appear to be real dinosaurs at all, which is a shame since there are over 700 species of real dinosaur species from archeological records the film’s producers could have chosen. It’d even be understandable if they picked something from the wrong time period, so long as it was an accurate portrayal.
Some scenes feature long-legged crocodile-like creatures, which appear to be “made up just for the movie,” Anduza said. At the end of the film, Driver’s character fights with what appears to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but with four legs.
“That is completely unlike anything we know from the fossil record,” Anduza said. “All big meat-eating dinosaurs walked on two legs.”
There are likely many reasons for these inaccuracies, Habib said, including the need to entertain audiences with creatures that seem other-worldly.
It’s a movie, not a science lecture
At the end of the day, films like “65” are meant to entertain, not teach a science lesson.
“As a scientist, especially a paleontologist, I’m kind of grateful that Hollywood takes an interest in paleontology,” Bruce Lieberman, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas, told Insider. “It can inspire kids or adults to become more interested in paleontology and science. And then maybe they’ll be the ones to go out, research, and learn how Hollywood wasn’t totally right.”
But Anduza said accurate portrayals of dinosaurs are important because understanding how dinosaurs lived, and the ways they are connected to animals today, can help humans better understand the history of our planet and our place in it.
“One of the really cool things about paleontology is that it provides a perspective that is really valuable,” Anduza said. “Just like looking up at the night sky, seeing these distant stars and feeling very small. You can hold a fossil in your hand that’s 150 million years old. And suddenly, your world expands.”
We’ll let you decide whether scientific accuracy really matters here. The film has a 65% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.