EUROPA REPORT (Sebastián Cordero, 2013)

europa report

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo

Genre: Sci-Fi

After the discovery of the existence of water on Europa, Jupiter’s fourth largest moon, a crew of six Astronauts are sent on a mission to investigate this ground breaking discovery and see if there may actually be evidence of life elsewhere in our galaxy. Privately funded, it was a mission that could be viewed around the world by everyone through the various cameras around the spaceship called ‘Europa One’ 24/7. However, after a technical failure the crew lose all communications but decide to continue their mission regardless. The emergence of the footage after the technical failure reveals both the tragedy and ground breaking discoveries that the crew experienced.

Yes, I am afraid Europa Report is essentially a ‘found footage’ film, but hang on, come back! Rest assured, Apollo 18 this is not and for me the mixture of documentary style and found footage actually enhances the atmosphere and involvement of this thoughtful slow burning Sci-Fi film. At only 90 minutes it is not a long film and admittedly the found footage style of everything through the eye of set cameras within Europa One along with a back-and-forth narrative structure at first makes things difficult to watch and admittedly the film is at first hard to get into. However patience is rewarded as the film seems to grow in confidence and come into its own as the narrative develops, emerging as a film of subtle philosophical ideas.

Of course the whole concept of six astronauts on a mission in space sounds like a humongous cliché, well thankfully Europa Report avoids the clichés by giving us little background into the personality or situation of these six characters. For the entirety of their 20 month journey their sole focus is the success of the mission and that is what motivates all of their actions. They do not have the usual cliché of conflicting personalities, and this allows Europa Report to avoid getting bogged down in clunky caricature exposition that wastes everyone’s time and allows the film to be Sci-Fi that primarily focuses on the science.

Through documentary style interviews with fictional experts set after the mission and what happens during the mission, Europa Report features a narrative that encapsulates many of the ideas that motivates mankind to explore space. The idea of confirming life on other planets has always been an obsession of mankind and it solely is what drives the characters, the mission and therefore the narrative. Europa Report also serves as a cautionary tale of mankind’s arrogance in that we think we can actually understand life if it existed on other planets. These themes and ideas are never over emphasised are preached, but explored with enough subtlety and intelligence to make the viewer think and provide substance to the narrative.

As the mission goes on and things inevitable go wrong, the narrative structure and found footage style camerawork actually enhance the experience in my view. The moments we go back to are emotionally powerful and feel all the more poignant when we see them in context in the final third. Likewise the fact we can only view things from set cameras enhances the claustrophobic isolation and overall feeling of insignificance and helplessness that the crew feels when so far away from earth and in uncharted territory.

The cast, perhaps with the exception of Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist, are all unknowns and give excellent and naturalistic performances. Without the character background we genuinely share the experiences and feelings of these characters and when the characters make their discoveries in the final third we genuinely share their feeling of wonder, helplessness and terror. Many people have criticised the film’s final shot, I personally thought it was perfectly judged and entirely in tune with the film’s ideas and themes, and is a shot that I found genuinely haunting and poignant.

No, Europa Report is not a perfect film; it has its flaws and certainly requires the viewer’s patience and tolerance at first, as well as characters fixing things because it is future technology so it does not have to be fully explained how they do it.

For those of you in the UK like myself, Europa Report is actually yet to be released here, but is available via the PlayStation Store for anyone with a PS3/PS4.

Despite a shaky start and using a format that should have been put to bed a long time ago, Europa Report rewards the viewer’s patience to emerge as an intelligent and thought provoking low key Sci-Fi of genuine atmosphere and intellect.

7/10

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
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6 Responses to EUROPA REPORT (Sebastián Cordero, 2013)

  1. jjames36 says:

    I think your score is a fair one, but oddly I have different reasons. I thought the start of this flick quite good, the middle strong, and the ending fairly weak. All of which added to it being an above average, but flawed, picture.

    • MoodyB says:

      I completely agree that it is flawed and above average.

      The ending seems to have truly divided people, though I admit it lacked tension and maybe the final shot was necessarily shown again, I thought it contained some nice philosophical ideas.

  2. Andrew Geary says:

    I don’t know, I would grade this closer to a five, I thought it was just painfully average. I thought the found footage gimmick actually worked for this film as well, but beyond that does this movie really offer anything else that isn’t already prevalent in these types of films? And I agree with james as well and thought the beginning was solid and wasn’t too difficult to get into. Also, the “reveal” at the very end was bad.

    • MoodyB says:

      I admit the film would have been just as effective without the ‘reveal’ and it didn’t need to be shown twice. Though I did find the whole found footage thing enhanced and helped us share the feeling of helplessness and insignificance that our characters felt.

      I personally liked the ideas in the film about human arrogance that we could understand potential discoveries of life on other planets and just how significant a discovery that would actually be.

      I liked the fact it was that sole goal that drove the characters and there was little pointless back story as the mission is important, not the characters individuality and we didn’t get a group of cliched caricatures.

      • Andrew Geary says:

        Sorry, by the reveal I meant the reveal of the monster was disappointing. But while the characters weren’t at least caricatures I thought they were somewhat flat and uninteresting. And while the movie dealt with the things you describe in your comment I thought the movie didn’t do a great job at exploring those ideas than similar films that happen to have the same tropes and elements, especially about human arrogance and trying to understand stuff beyond us. But I agree that what’s good about the movie was that it wasn’t trying to shoehorn pointless backstory and make it a story about fairly competent (at least for the most part) professionals on a mission.

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