Purposely and decidedly more science than fiction. “Europa Report” blends documentary style filmmaking with dramatic flare to spawn a tense, beautiful, and intelligent thriller that is truly beyond this world. Easily one of the most smart, accurate, and awe-inspiring films of the genre. “Europa Report” matches recent sci-fi hits like Danny Boyle’s”Sunshine” and Duncan Jones “Moon” stride for stride. While it may not be as charismatic or cinematic, it more than makes up for it with authenticity, astounding visuals, and futuristic probability. Directed by Sebastian Cordero, who does an amazing job capturing the stillness and immensity of space with a minimal budget. “Europa Report” may not be the taut character study or twisty adventure many expected. Nonetheless, it is a veritable gaze into the act of discovery, the soul of humanity, and the unpredictability of our infinite universe, its past, present and future.
Six astronauts embark on a privately funded mission to one of Jupiter’s moons called Europa in search of extraterrestrial life. Europa is an ice covered moon who’s surface constantly shifts. It is believed that under it’s surface, Europa is home to vast and deep ocean. After experiencing a terrible technical failure en route and barely making it to Europa in one piece, the crew begins their research. What they discover and what it results in, no one, not even our bests scientists could have predicted.
Without question, the most impressive aspect of “Europa Report” is its genuine portrayal of space and physics. In addition, the branches of cosmology and astronomy throughout “Europa Report” are equally as fascinating and valid. The film deals more specifically with the plausibility of and search for extraterrestrial life. It doesn’t trifle with the over-the-top, violent way big-budget blockbusters falsely abuse and portray alien life forms. Whether it is the simplicity of weightlessness, the intricacy of surface textures, the colours of cosmic bodies, and everything in between. “Europa Report’s” material is legitimate and its imagery, credible to say the least.
Magnify the subtle movements of Europa 1’s crew, or at times, the lack there of, and it becomes apparent that the attention to detail and an honest portrayal is of great value to the film and its makers. Floating in the blackness of the vacuum or the lack of resistance inside the ship, everything down to the tiniest detail is honed to perfection. Not to mention the attention paid to the consistency, appearance, and forms of Jupiter, Europa, and other celestial bodies. Every facet of our galaxy and its material is showcased with the utmost care and precision. Even more compelling and realistic is the detail in the ship, its travels, and the forces working against it. Its interior, exterior, and experiences are conveyed masterfully.
Granted, the story of Europa 1, its adventures, and its six astronauts is somewhat simple. Yet, its mission, objectives, and the earnestness of its crew are as enthralling and endearing as they come. The cast does a remarkable job capturing and exuding the wonder of witnessing space and the yearning for its exploration. Admittedly, it would prove difficult for any filmmaker to showcase emotion with cinematic strength while trying to remain authentic, let alone doing so only being able to utilize found-footage tactics. Yes, “Europa Report” is a found-footage film, but trust me, it isn’t what you think, but I digress… Sebastian Cordero’s ability to take this simple story and its characters and make it so stellar and entrancing is outstanding. His work behind the camera is phenomenal. Everything terrific about this film has so much to do with Cordero. This man has a bright future ahead of him.
Many feel the need to discredit and discontinue found-footage from cinema, and rightfully so. Between the over-saturation and hackneyed attempts slapped together in short amounts of time, who can blame them? Yet, there is still hope. Who’d have thunk that in 2013 a grisly sequel and an indie sci-fi thriller would come along to rescue and revive the sub-genre. Horror anthology “V/H/S 2” and docu-drama “Europa Report” are existing proof that found-footage films are still relevant and utterly effective, when done right. “Europa Report” gives its own unique twist to the sub-genre and takes full advantage of the premise. This is found-footage done right.
Although thus far I’ve given a lot of the credit to Cordero and crew, and with good reason. “Europa Report’s” cast has just as much to do with the films success and effectiveness. Featuring Sharlto Copley (District 9), Michael Nyqvist (Millennium Series), Karolina Wydra (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Christian Camargo (The Hurt Locker), Anamaria Marinca, and Daniel Wu. “Europa Report’s” characters are ably portrayed by thoroughly competent actors. Each individual bursts with a heartfelt and honest desire to bring the mission to fruition. While it may be for their own cosmological reasons and aspirations. They still perform and sacrifice everything they’ve got for one another. Their eyes gleam with innocence and awe, it is truly bewildering.
Scientifically accurate, visually resplendent, and utterly inspirational. “Europa Report” is brilliantly put together and performed with on the grandest of scales with great attention, care, and drive by everyone involved.
Europa Report: 8.5 out of 10.