Europa Report - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Europa Report Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 25, 2013
This is basically the Blair Witch Project of space movies.
Super Reviewer
½ December 10, 2013
Being released in the same year as the big-budgeted and visually stunning "Gravity" would normally hinder the successful chances of any other film in the science-fiction genre. However, Sebastien Cordoro's "Europa Report" actually manages to find it's own niche and invigoration by relying purely on a strong premise and confidence in it's delivery. It will, most certainly, not pull in the revenue or audience of "Gravity" but it's proof, yet again, that coughing up the green isn't always necessary when venturing into the cosmos.

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.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2013
Fear. Sacrifice. Contact.

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.
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2013
We can feel the limitations in the budget by the shots that aren't shown, but the shots we are given are convincing. The story is a "B movie" thriller/horror by design, but it's produced very intelligently with its less than $10 million budget.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2013
This film isn't too different from Cuaron's "Gravity", to tell you the truth -- although without the stunning zero-gravity technology. It's a quite enjoyable and thrilling space disaster story.
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2013
A decent expedition concerning a futuristic society and their decision to send men and women to a distant moon on Jupiter, called Europa, in an attempt to answer hopefully answer questions they have concerning whether we are alone in the universe. Sadly for this film, "Prometheus" more or less did this kind of plot in much more interesting and compelling fashion. With that said, this movie is not terrible, it takes an interesting perspective on how it tells its story from the character's perspective as well as cutting time through docudrama lenses as well. However, it just does not possess the same wonder and suspense that many other movies before it do, and the ending leaves a lot to be desired. Very missable, and as said, not very memorable despite its best attempts to draw its audience in with that same wonder that many movies concerning space travel have done much better before.
Super Reviewer
½ August 17, 2013
'Europa Report'. Thrilling, suspenseful, brilliant small scale sci-fi. Puts the wonder back into space exploration, while focusing firmly on human drama. Top-notch editing.
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2014
A fascinating science-fiction thriller, Europa Report is a well-crafted found footage film. The plot follows a lost manned mission that was sent to explore an ice field on Jupiter's fourth largest moon. The story is full of mystery and intrigue, as it starts with the mission being lost and slowly reveals what happened. And, the cast is quite strong; as they give their characters considerable amounts of personality and depth. Europa Report is an entertaining and compelling adventure that does an excellent job at using the found footage genre.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2013
Even when first employed, the found footage format leant little to narrative filmmaking. And as time has gone on, that has become increasingly...

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.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2013
Decent effects and crew and all but it just kept hyping its self up for a 10 second climax ending which is clearly something out of the matrix. eh. still decent tho. Guess I was just hoping for something more spooky but got nothing but lights and a quick BOO.
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2013
It is almost undoubtedly going to be a short hop and a skip comparing Europa Report to the 2011 film "Apollo 18". On the surface I can see why some people might jump to that conclusion. They both concern unclassified missions in space, they both have elements of the found footage documentary style, and they both serve as thrillers.

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!
Super Reviewer
½ December 1, 2014
I've let my feeling be known many times on how I feel about these found footage documentary films, that use camcorders. They are lazy, usually have no storyline, and the constant camera movement is just nauseating. Europa Report is different, as the film is told through surveillance cameras, aboard a state of the art space ship. Europa is a privately funded mission to the sixth moon of Saturn, to investigate strange heat signatures detected by NASA, that could be alien lifeforms. The cinematography was better than most of these film, and there was somewhat of a back story, however Europa Report is really not much different than a million other similar films. Nothing really happens until they reach their destination, they find something strange, and then must decide if fighting for their lives is worth the potential for scientific discovery. I bet you can name a dozen other films that were similar. As for the cast, they were just like film, in that they were very average, with little to nothing of note. Science Fiction is my favorite genre and I'm always hoping these films will show me something new and excited, but as with Apollo 18, Mission To Mars, Sunshine, and Moon, I was extremely disappointed. Europa Report wasn't a bad film, but it wasn't unique in any way. If you haven't seen many films, you may be wowed by something like this, but if you're like me, all you're going to find is a very boring and unimaginative film.
Super Reviewer
½ November 28, 2013
There is perhaps not a harder genre than the science fiction genre, a genre that requires an immense amount of ingenuity, visual sense, forward-thinking, and some sort of realist backing that keeps the story grounded. To do it in a mockumentary fashion is even more challenging, as witnessed by such failed attempts as Apollo 18. Europa Report, however, manages to weave a successful film that is part documentary and part found footage, in to one rather effective science fiction thriller.

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.

3.5/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2014
The Abyss meets The Blair Witch Project in space. There's some striking imagery here and decent performances, and the structure is interesting though not always successful, but the story lacks a unique hook and the middle section is a bit slow. The science, however, is never less than convincing.
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2013
Europa Report succeeds the seemingly impossible; a technically accurate film that refreshingly gravitates on the side of science than fiction. The lack of a well-known cast certainly help anchor the seriousness of its intentions as well, allowing the story to unfold with undue celebrity distractions. The low budget unfortunately means not-so special effects, but the results, while at times jarring, are surprisingly mostly always effective for the story being told here. It is a shame the finale does flip into the more fictional side of sci-fi film lore, but Europa Report soars when its reveling in the science; a rare treat in this often neglected genre of filmmaking.
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