Sixty-five million years ago on the planet Somaris, a humanoid alien pilot named Mills (Adam Driver) chooses to take on a space expedition to help defray the cost of his daughter Nevine’s (Chloe Coleman) medical treatments, despite the concerns of his wife Alya (Nika King). On the way back, his ship is struck by an asteroid group and his ship crashes on a wild planet, killing his passengers in their capsules. He contemplates suicide until he finds that one passenger has survived—a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblat). They speak different languages but he dedicates himself to helping her survive.
He discovers that the other broken half of the ship contains a working escape shuttle. He sends a beacon to Somaris and the pair set out to walk to the shuttle’s location, though he lies to her, telling her that her parents are still alive there. It becomes clear to us (even if we haven’t seen the trailers) that this planet is Earth at the end of the Cretaceous. Not only are they threatened by dinosaurs, but the biggest asteroid in the group is about to hit the Earth, killing most of the life thereon.
Koa watches several messages sent to Mills from his daughter Nevine, whom we learn has died. They are attacked by a giant therapod and other nasty creatures. A rockfall separates them and they later reunite. Mills discovers that the asteroid is due in 12 hours. They reach the ship but Koa is angry that Mills lied to her. They learn that a rescue ship is on the way and they board the escape shuttle, but it slides down the mountain slope. They fend off a team of T-Rexes, but then the Therapod attacks and they kill it with a geyser. They blast off just as the asteroid homes in on the planet. During the credits, the destruction and regrowth of Earth passes before our eyes.
The film was directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, produced by Columbia Pictures, Bron Creativity, Raimi Productions, TSG Entertainment and Beck/Woods. Reviews were quite mixed and the film is controversial in science fiction circles. It was filmed in the woods of Louisiana and Oregon. The quite good special effects were created by Framestore and Ghost VFX, led by Chris Harvey. Danny Elfman began the music score, but Chris Bacon, Michael Giacchino, and Gad Emile Zeitune finished it and got the credit. The film has already made some money but was not an overwhelming critical success. The irritatingly calm voice of the ship was by Brian Dare.
Adam Driver carries the action film, using skills he learned as a Marine. The warning claxon of the ship comes from the Martian war-machines in 1953’s War of the Worlds. The human characters are well-played and the dinosaurs move and act pretty authentically. It is basically a crashlanding/dinosaur chase movie. If it had been made by Roger Corman we would have praised him, but Spielberg has spoiled us with dinosaurs who are not only scary, but beautiful realistic creatures. These are horror-movie monsters. It is gloomy and frightening and the terrors never let up. One wonders about a distant planet millions of years ago being populated by beings virtually identical to human beings, but that seems like a quibble.
The film kind of misses the significance of the literal big picture—the actual near-extinction of life on Earth. This is one of the five most important events in the history of the world and we are now contemplating a sixth. As in a monster movie, all the creatures are predators and seem to exist only to threaten the cast. If the production had given us a full-fledged zoology like Spielberg did, show us the beauty and wonder of the lost creatures instead of just their teeth, we could have shed a tear at that world’s loss. The climax would have been more than a big explosive finish. It could have shown us the cosmic tragedy of our precarious situation. But I still love this movie. Adam Driver is compelling and heart-breaking and the girl, Arianna Greenblat, is a wonderful find. It is emotionally draining and we care deeply about these two as they battle one nightmare after another and the sky is literally falling about them.