EUROPA REPORT (2013)
This found footage sci-fi flick tells the story of a company that privately funds a manned space mission to the Jupiter moon of Europa, where conditions may be right to support life. As the film opens the mission is being described by Europa Ventures’ CEO Dr. Unger (Embeth Davidtz) and we know right away the mission did not go well as she tearfully begins to tell the ill-fated tale by playing the mission footage communicated back to Earth. As the footage progresses, we follow the astronauts from launch to the loss of one of the crew during an accident while on spacewalk to the landing on Europa where things really start to spiral out of control. We then follow the mission to its obviously tragic conclusion.
Europa Report is a decent and engrossing enough sci-fi thriller, though it never really builds the intensity or suspense we would have liked. The story by Philip Gelatt is interesting and it is competently directed by Sebastián Cordero, though it never really pulls us in like the recent Gravity which has some similar sequences. One of the flaws that hurts here is that we never really get endeared to the crew. The characters are likable enough and the cast of actors are all competent, but we never really interact with them enough or get to know them well enough to really care like we did with Gravity’s two astronauts in peril. The use of the mission control footage from the ship’s interior and exterior cameras makes us distant voyeurs and the use of POV is limited so we never really feel like we are there, which is the entire point of found footage. The use of professional actors like Davidtz and Elysium’s Sharlto Copley also hinders the found footage use, as they obviously are actors, not astronauts and thus this can’t be actual footage. It renders the illusion powerless. But those flaws aside, the story is interesting, and was never boring during its 90-minute running time. The production value is very good. There are some nice SPFX, and the sets are well-made and give the illusion of the characters being inside a real spacecraft and not a set. Too bad we are never made to feel like we are in there with them. Obviously, it is not until the final frames tht do we find out what has really been happening on Jupiter’s moon and the film keeps one curious, though, one suspects the conclusion would reveal as much and play out like it did.
It’s just a shame this was only a moderately entertaining little flick instead of a real nail-biter like the story’s potential held. If you like sci-fi and you like found footage, it certainly is better than Apollo 18 but should also have been a lot better than it is. One isn’t expecting another Gravity or even a space set Blair Witch, but it could have been something that at least evoked those films and gave us more chills, suspense and intensity. Overall worth a look and it is enjoyable but could have been so much more.
Rated 3 (out of 4) moons of Jupiter!