What would it be like if mankind were to venture to another planet and discover life? Where would we have to go, and how would we get there? What would alien life look like? How would we witness such a discovery back on earth, and how would it affect mankind?
A unique documentary-style science fiction thriller, EUROPA REPORT follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean.
After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crewmember, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined
Europa Report adopts a few different genres to give us a thought provoking sci-fi film exploring the possibility of life within our solar system. Being part drama, with a little suspense sprinkled on top, I found that the film is capable of immersing a viewer thanks to its approach. Europa Report is going to be remembered for its very specific use of camera because a majority of the film is viewed through an interesting fixed 8-camera system that records simultaneously throughout the “ship”. The movie relies on the performances of the actors portraying the mental and physical stresses, risks, and dangers of long term space travel. You feel like you’re watching security footage of the explorers, but just as important to that experience is that this fixed camera use allows the performances of the actors to really flourish and make this appear to be an actual historical event. The movie plays with your expectations a bit.
The story is actually quite touching and managed to immerse me more than I expected, which was a pleasant discovery. Sharlto Copley was good in this film and gave the sense of a person with separation anxiety from his family. I enjoyed Copley enough in this movie and he easily steals the scenes featuring his character James Corrigan. Another stand out for me was Sweden’s own Michael Nyqvist. Nyqvist portrays Andrei Blok. The rest of the space crew relies on his character since he’s the person with the most time and experience in space, although the amount of time traveling to Europa is much longer than his combined time. Being confined to a small space has to be an incredible mental strain and I have to imagine that people change under these circumstances, and they did.
I liked a lot of the performances. Some were better than others but none were bad. Some of the characters are hard to judge because they’re space explorers, so the characters are perceived as brave and motivated to complete their mission, but on other aspects they’re idiots because they should have headed back to earth at the first major catastrophe. It could be, in some ways, a credit to the writing because I see them as both brave and foolish. I like how the story forces me to rethink my initial impressions and offers a subtle depth of engagement not often seen.
I couldn’t help but think of the movie Pitch Black while watching this movie. Possibly due to the visual tone adopted by this film whenever a character was left alone toward some shadow. Another film the movie occasionally reminded me of was Prometheus, except this movie is much more compact than the Ridley Scott sci-fi extravaganza. This film also has a much smaller budget. You can feel the inconsistency, with some scenes seeming terrible and others seeming mediocre at best. To be frank, they just seem like they may not have been fully completed which is jarring considering the fact that a lot of the environments in the film are gorgeous and are fully CG generated. Those moments of disjointed CG are brief, and while these moments appear, Europa Report redeems itself and sometimes makes you question whether that was a stumble.
Europa Report is something that’s slower paced and I think it’s comparable to Star Trek TNG, using the premise of Prometheus, with the added wit of a good Sherlock Holmes mystery. It pains me to point out the faults with Europa Report because I genuinely walked into this film with some excitement and anticipation based on its premise and cast. The CG is at times inconsistent but it’s interesting to see the mental collapse of the worlds finest astronauts on a deep space mission. I don’t think it’s too much of a revelation to admit that bad things happen to these characters in this trip but there’s a sense of understanding acceptance to seeing their stories unfold. The ingenuity used to immerse the viewer revolves around the almost universal desire to find life on other planets and it works. This movie takes that curiosity and exploits it into success. My primary detraction’s from rating Europa Report better are mostly technical, with a few other story qualms, but I believe Europa Report has a touching story that I would certainly recommend to those interested in an alternative, patient, sci-fi film.
I give Europa Report a 7 out of 10
Europa Report arrives on VOD June 27th and in theaters August 2nd.