Science fiction exploration films have been done many times before. So have found footage films. Europa Report may be the first to noticeably combine the two though, in this movie about 6 astronauts sent to investigate the potential for life on one of Jupiter’s distant moons. The films small cast includes Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist and Christian Camargo and was directed by Sebastian Cordero.
The film presents itself as a collection of camera footage found after the events of an investigative mission to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. The goal to determine the possibilities of life existing there, and the six person cast is thrilled to be able to have a chance to make the greatest discovery in humanity’s history. However, as the mission planners recount the events, it becomes clear that something went wrong during their time there.
I was really excited to see this film after I caught the trailer by mistake on evening. Reviews were good, and the concept seemed cool. Plus the acting on board was very good considering the lower budget and independent nature of the film. I was told that the film is extremely scientific and attempts to present a realistic portrayal without stretching the bounds of reality too much, and that this was a refreshing thing to see. Well, this was certainly true about the film.
The science was detailed and relatively un-simplified, which adds an immediate sense of authenticity to the events. Further multiplying this are the actors who do a wonderful job of presenting genuine and normal people, with relatively small amounts of screen time to do so. Small, but meaningful moments are used to make us care about the characters, and these moments become very effective in making the later events of the film more meaningful.
Herein lies one of the films main issues for me though. The events that occur later on in the film just don’t seem as meaningful as they might. I’m torn as to how I feel about the second half of the film and it’s difficult to describe without presenting spoilers. I am not one who thinks that you need big budget action to make a film exciting and suspenseful. Quite the opposite. I thought that the realism of the film would make me love it’s suspense more, but for some reason I just didn’t feel it.
Perhaps the moments of suspense were all too similar and followed a formula that was not terribly exciting. Astronaut goes out to perform their function. Sees something amazing. It all backfires. The film seems to just repeat this formula over and over, and it becomes redundant to me. Throughout, the acting remains fantastic and there are small moments of creativity that shine but overall it created a somewhat dull and uneventful feeling at times.
Visually, the film does excel on a small budget though, and the camera shots work for the most part. Similar to the movie ‘Gravity’ the film is able to visually create situations that you really feel. A couple times the dread of a situation gave me that empty stomach feeling, realizing how awful it would be if you were the one in it. This is good film making, and on a small budget the director must be commended for it. If only the plot itself added a little more variety, this would have been further amplified.
This is a tough one for me to write, because I really wanted to love this film. I certainly did like it. It was a really well made film. It also stuck to it’s guns, which were realism, minimalism and a formula of scientific presentation. I respect that completely, and I figured that it would make me love it even more. But for whatever reason, something just didn’t hit me like I wish it had. Perhaps had I not already seen the amazing ‘Gravity’ then I would have taken a different view. Overall, great little indie science fiction film that I would certainly recommend you checking out. The beginning and end portray incredible meaning and messages – it’s just missing something in the middle.