Europa Report is the faux-documentary 'verite' style movie about a privately financed journey to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's four moons where it's believed that life would be most likely to thrive under its conditions. The ambitious project to search for and hopefully find some sort of primordial life outside of Earth is funded by Dr Unger (Embeth Davidtz), CEO of Europa Ventures. The crew is captained by William Xu (Daniel Wu), piloted by Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), and is accompanied by chief science officer Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), marine biologist Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), junior engineer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley), and chief engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist). These six brave and selfless souls will traverse further than any other human has by light years. All in search of answers, and clues to our own existence, perhaps...
As these six explorers are potentially on the cusp of making the greatest discovery in human history, they'll be forced to decide what lengths they're willing to go for answers, or feel compelled to go to in the sacrifice for knowledge and scientific advancements for all. I love science fiction movies, especially hard science fiction space bound movies like this one, and Europa Report ranks among the very best of them. Europa Report isn't even so much about finding hostile aliens, as so many sci-fi movies are. Europa Report is about that irrepressible trait every human has that fuels the human spirit of exploration forever forward to newer and greater heights. All for curiosity, ideals, and beliefs that extend far beyond one individual self. It isn't about progression for any one person, it's about advancement for us all.
These six fearless pioneers, explorers and scientists embark on a near two year, one way, journey to Europa in pursuit of an answer to the age old question that's been pondered by every human being on the planet. I don't care who you are, everyone at some point in their lives has wondered 'are we really alone?' and 'is it a question that's worth dying for?'. I was truly impressed with their unwavering resolve, and with their exhilaration at the mere possibility of some small clue or discovery, no matter how minute it may have seemed. Their enthusiasm towards it felt genuine and was almost infectious.
A lot of effort went into making Europa Report as scientifically accurate as possible, and the results are evident. Europa Report does utilize the ever dreaded found footage approach which is likely to put a lot of people off. I'm not a big fan of found footage myself, but when it's used properly it can be a highly effective way to make the viewers feel involved. Within the structure of the movie the found footage makes sense and it didn't feel 'gimmicky' at all. It actually did add what it's supposed to, which is a palpable sense of authenticity to the proceedings. This is found footage that's been used right.
We're given little, to no, character development or insight into these characters. Much like in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Which was refreshing because I'm tired of the obligatory 'developmental' arcs that are habitually inserted into movies. There's more than one way to develop characters rather than using expository, and often cliched dialogue. A characters actions in different situations, ie, how they react, can often speak louder than some self reflective back story that's been ham-fisted into the narrative can. Despite the lack of any traditional character development, every single one of the characters all feel very human, very relatable, and very real. They all manage to rise above any singular stereotypes that pervade most movies, and that's due to a convergence of good writing, good storytelling, and good acting.
Europa Report always remained focused on its exploratory mission first and foremost. It was always about science and of the potential discovery on their trip. That was always the primary aim, always. There were no romantic subplots or love triangles bogging down the narrative. The exhilarating sense of discovery, the awe of space exploration, and the search for life takes precedence above everything else, and it's totally engrossing. Yet it also explores the astronauts willingness (believably) to sacrifice their own lives in pursuit of knowledge, and their resolve for scientific progress. It's a fine balance and Europa Report walks it well.
For such a low budget movie, less than $10 million dollars, and the space sequences are amazingly tactile and believable. Europa Report is also told in a nonlinear fashion, which could be discombobulating because it tends to jump around a lot, especially at the beginning, but it calms down relatively early on. It's such a shame when smart, innovative and thrilling movies like this get passed over for more mainstream movies. I have nothing against 'mainstream' movies either, but a variety of movies should be 'pushed', not only the mainstream movies. Europa Report deserved a better and wider reception than the one it got.
Written by - The Sentry - 01/01/2015