Europa Report Reviews
Aboard Europa One, a crew of six astronauts embark on a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon. After six months all communication with mission control is lost but the crew carry on regardless and discover an unexplained bioluminescence underneath the moons surface. When mission control finally regain contact with the ship, they discover what actually happened to the crew and what the mysterious lighted object was.
The first thing that strikes you about this film is it's excellent use of atmosphere and it's foreboding music that captures a suitably sinister tone from the off-set. Even though it's running on a cheaper budget than the aforementioned Alfonso Cauron blockbuster, it still manages a strikingly crisp appearance. The most impressive aspect to it, though, is it's simple yet entirely feasible concept. Europa (Jupiter's fourth largest moon) actually does have an ice surface and scientists hypothesise that there is a water ocean beneath it, meaning extraterrestrial life is entirely possible and it's through this, that screenwriter Philip Gelatt succeeds in relating his story.
In bringing Gelatt's story to the screen Cordoro's decision to use the found footage approach not only suits his budgetary constraints but also the the material itself. It plays out like a Nasa documented mission, interspersed with interviews of the crew and in doing so, achieves the desired sense of realism. Having a multinational (and relatively unknown) cast also adds this, much in the same way that Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" benefited from not knowing which crew member will perish at any given time. The found footage approach is so understated that it's easy to forget that the film falls into that sub-genre. It's intimacy also contributes to clever use of tension that builds slowly and effectively and any reliance on CGI is kept to a minimum.
Despite some ponderous moments that make the film feel longer than it actually is, the only real issue I had was the payoff: like so many films of this type - particularly in the horror genre - it's when the big reveal is delivered that it falters and detracts from the tension and the unknown, which made the film so strong in the first place.
Other than that, this is a highly impressive endeavour and, for the most part, a solid indie science fiction thriller. It won't have you in awe like "Gravity" but it will have you pondering the credible possibilities in our solar system.
Mediocre Film! The plot in Europa report is boring, unoriginal and copies a lot from other films, the Abyss included. The fact the director takes the film out of chronological order only adds to the boredom and confusion. The actors appear to be actors pretending to be astronauts, none of them come across as believable. The only plus is the director tries to create real space footage, and this does give some believability, until you see the giant gray bin lined space suits. Not bad effort for a low budget film, but its lacks an original plot.
An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon.
Wait! We are getting a special report in from Magnolia Pictures and director Sebastian Cordero.
(Cue funky electronic theme music.)
The haunting and suspenseful "Europa Report" takes the found footage format and makes something special out of it by simply creating a non-sequential and stripped down narrative that takes full advantage of its limited settings and showing what can be truly accomplished on a limited budget and unlimited imagination. In this case, we get what, at this current juncture, is probably the most plausible future of space travel, funded privately and financed as the most epic reality show ever. Even then, the movie cannot escape all the traps of the format and does cheat. But it makes up for the limited characterizations(only James(Sharlto Copley) has any kind of backstory and is the only one known to leave anybody behind on earth) with a high level of performances.
So, when the movie starts, it is already six months into the manned mission to Europa with one crew member having died and Andrei(Michael Nyqvist), the chief engineer, slow in healing from an unknown malady. At which point, communications are also down, leaving Dr. Samantha Unger(Embeth Davidtz) back on earth to ponder their fate, along with most of humanity,
All of which is in service of the movie's stated themes of praising the heroism of astronauts, past, present and future. In this same way, exploration does not happen in a single leap; it is one generation building upon the work of another. And to paraphrase Mission Commander William Xu(Daniel Wu), even if they find nothing, it will be something.
In fact they almost sound exactly the same. The big exception here is that Europa Report is done well! Sebastián Cordero's Europa Report watches more like a real scientific documentary with more realism than any other movie I have seen before it. The film (before it reaches into thriller territory) is a lot like what a real mission to Europa might actually play out.
As always we get a strong and emotional performance out of Sharlto Copely and he is fast becoming one of my favorite actors to watch on the big screen. The rest of the cast consists largely of unknown actors to American audiences (with the exception of Dan Fogler) but they are well played.
I felt at a point or two after the ship became stranded on moon itself and the thriller aspect of the movie really began to take hold; that the movie started creeping towards those same old and tired suspense tropes we have seen a hundred million times over. But in the last 10 minutes or so Europa Report redeemed itself when you started to get the over arcing theme that the writers and the director want to put on film in the first place.
Europa Report is about how dangerous and unknown space and exploration can be, but the revelations we can find will change the entire planets perspective for all coming time. Not only is the message loud and clear but it is laid out almost perfectly and for me was done so in a way that almost came to me like an epiphany. Any movie that can get that out of me is worth another watch for sure!
Let's talk visual effects. We have seen Space done wonderfully in the past, even as far back as 2001: A Space Odyssey and obviously recently in big blockbuster movies, that being said Europa Report might have the most beautiful and realistic space imagery I have ever seen on film. It is clear that countless of hours were spent just researching the Europan landscape and what the moon would look like from various viewpoint and perspectives...... It. Was. Breathtaking. The visuals were further enhanced by the excellent score given to us by Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galatica, The Walking Dead).
If you fancy yourself a fan of great science fiction or if you enjoy the Duncan Jones film "Moon" than this is a can't miss picture. Even with its minor flaws it still is one of the better SciFi films I have seen in a few years!
The story follows a crew of six astronauts as they are sent to investigate possible life on Jupiter's moon. Interestingly enough, the story takes place in our contemporary time. The exposition is achieved through news footage and documentary-style, with the rest of the film being composed of cleverly conceived found footage devices.
It's the film's smart direction and well-realized script that makes the film's elements work. The world-building feels current and realistic. The script refreshingly takes science at least passably seriously, introducing real-world situations and problems, entreating us to a crew and ship that are fragile, and hopelessly outmatched against the bleakness that is space. The footage is put together coherently, and to good effect. There is rarely any over-bearing narration, or irritating figure heads spelling out what has just occurred, rather we are left to witness events as they unfold, with the emotional backdrop of real-world implications.
The performances are strong all around, crucial for a film that relies on very intimate relationships. The crew composes many different personality types and demeanors, yet all interact in believable and identifiable ways. The direction creates just the right amount of tension, and delivers us a narrative told in a very methodical manner. It never feels rushed, it occasionally feels slow, but the last act is all the more effective for it.
Europa Report does have its faults, however. The emotional resonance in the last act is never quite what it should be, a symptom of never fully identifying with one character, and the short running time. The pace is a bit sluggish in parts, though never overly slow.
The biggest flaw is the documentary aspect of the on-Earth personnel, we never quite get a dramatic through-line for them. The way they are utilized should seemingly pay-off differently than it does, and thus I felt more could have been done with that aspect.
Overall it's a nice addition to the genre.