‘Europa Report’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:14 am,

Europa Report Reviews Starring Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist 2013 Europa Report Review

Europa Report does manage to present a pretty good indie movie experience – one that pulls off some grand designs pretty effectively, using practical (read: budgeted) techniques.

Europa Report takes a look at the phenomenon of deep-space exploration, as a team of astronauts embarks on a multi-year mission to investigate a moon of Jupiter called Europa, which is suspected of being able to sustain life. Dr. Dan Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), engineers Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist) and James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley), along with pilot Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca) and team leader William Xu (Daniel Wu), are all initially motivated by a curiosity about questions that could change the course of mankind’s development – that is, of course, until the mission starts to go horribly wrong.

Far away from home with dwindling prospects for a happy return, the  crew must make some bold and dangerous decisions about what to do. Do they focus their efforts on trying to get back to Earth? Or do they press forward unafraid of the consequences, in order to ensure that humanity benefits from the discoveries and revelations waiting out there in the universe (no matter how terrible)?

One would think that the sub-genre of found-footage would’ve thoroughly burned itself out by now; however, Europa Report manages to make a late-in-the-game argument for how the format can be used smartly and effectively to create a unique and enjoyable (enough) cinematic experience. Director Sebastián Cordero and writer Philip Gelatt deserve a lot of credit for course-correcting (no pun) a lot of the mistakes made by other found-footage films: Instead of, say, Paranormal Activity‘s slow crescendo progression, Europa Report manages to keep the viewer’s attention through alternating narrative threads, while simultaneously staying true to the rules of the found-footage format.

Europa Report Petrovna Camera View Europa Report Review

Since Gelatt’s story is framed as sort of a “black box record” that has been discovered and analyzed, the core story of the crew members can effectively be spliced with documentary footage from earth, detailing how certain powers and minds involved with the Europa event – characters played by Dan Fogler (Hannibal), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire) and Embeth Davidtz (Mad Man) – are affected by the ultimate result and implications of the mission. It’s a nice succinct way of breaking the story into neatly organized sections (scenes from the ship sectioned off and framed by testimony from the Earth crew), and even allows Gelatt to play with narrative structure to offer some nice twists and dramatic developments not otherwise possible.

While Cordero isn’t working with much in the way of budget or sets, his style in creating the outer space experience is a nice throwback to films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, using practical techniques (and some CGI) to convey the silent, still and dark void of space. The interior of the ship (where most of the “action” takes place) is cramped and tight and conveys a pretty realistic sense of what actual space travel is all about. For space enthusiasts, the film will be a refreshing departure from so much high-fantasy; by the same token, however, the stripped-down, “realistic” aesthetic of Cordero’s film and its single-setting won’t be enough to excite a large number of viewers. There’s a reason that real-life astronaut missions aren’t watched 24/7 by millions of viewers: it’s an overly technical, jargon-filled and only marginally-appealing world. Therefore, to certain degree, so is a film that attempts accurately recreate the intimate and authentic astronaut experience.

Sharlto Copley in Europa Report Europa Report Review

Sharlto Copley in ‘Europa Report’

The ensemble cast within the spaceship – Camargo, Marinca, Nyqvist, Wu, Wydra and Copley – certainly sell the hell out of their respective roles, no matter how large or small; together, they make all the faux space play believable and relatable. Copley (District 9) and Nyqvist (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) are particular standouts, playing dynamic characters – which is not surprising, given their level of fame and acclaim.  With the exception of maybe Camargo (who is forgettable), the cast members each standout and feel like authentic, well-rounded characters…  in a movie that is never going to explore much of the depth they’ve developed.

By its third act, Europa Report has transitioned from the science drama of Apollo 13 to the psychological thrills of Sunshinse downward  into the full-on horror/sci-fi absurdity (and ultimate disappoint) of Apollo 18. It’s not a very informative science drama, it’s only a fairly good psychological thriller (for the middle stretch), and it’s not very scary when it tries to go horror on you. And yet, despite all that, Europa Report does manage to present a pretty good indie movie experience – one that pulls off some grand designs pretty effectively, using practical (read: budgeted) techniques with fairly good results. It’s an odd duck, to be sure, but for the price of a home rental, it’s not a bad look.

517786707 3 620 439 Europa Report Review

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Europa Report is now in limited theatrical release. The film is also currently available on Video On Demand (check your local TV provider), Digital Download and on iTunes. It is 90 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and peril.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. I’ve always wanted to see a movie about a mission to Europa so no matter what the views are on the quality of this film I will definitely be seeing it in theatres!

  2. I’ll check this film out when it’s on Blu-Ray or cable when it out of cinemas in about a couple of months.

  3. I’m a sucker for sci-fi movies. Even when they are not so good. A space mission towards Europa, Titan is what I was waiting for. Interesting to think what might be out there.

  4. I LOVED this low budget indie scifi film. That final act had me on the edge of my seat.

  5. I thought it was pretty decent… Liked it a lot better than Apollo 18

  6. Definitely slot this in for down the road for an evening’s diversion.
    From your impressions, Kofi, this does meet the rental threshold.

    In a related note I just saw Oblivion again and I enjoyed it
    than the first time and it is the best pure sci-fi in a while.

    • *more* than

    • Oblivion flippin’ rocked!

  7. Sounds like it could be a decent watch when I get chance. I liked the idea of Apollo 18 until it started getting a little too dumb so hopefully the final act of this movie isn’t as bad as that when being compared to it’s tone.

    • Forgot to add, is it in a documentary style similar to The McPherson Tapes from the late 90s and The Poughkeepsie Tapes from a few years ago that mix docu-drama with found footage and if you’ve seen them, how does Europa Report compare?

  8. pretty interesting for an indie flick. great storyline too! Must watch!

  9. Please tell me there is no shaky cam? I really want to see this movie, but shaky cam is an instant no go for me.

    • So you hate home movies then? Cause unless you and your family have tripods for arms that have no muscle or blood whatsoever then that’s what the point of shaky cam is, to replicate the home movie style and make it scarier or more interesting than a perfectly still and polished Hollywood movie.

      • Here we go with the “shaky cam” complaints.

  10. Sharlto Copley did a much better job hiding his accent in this one (compared to A-Team). Not a bad little movie, but the ending definitely could have used some polishing.

  11. I can tell the writer didn’t enjoy the movie. I for one think it is a departure from every sci-fi flick we’ve seen lately and it rises awesomely to its climax which I personally think is pretty exciting and leaves you wanting more! I started watching it and it was kind of slow at first, but comments on GetGlue had me intrigued and each moment passing got exciting until the end which I think was superb, it felt like a reality… I don’t know… I just really liked it! I do get though that this movie isn’t for everyone…

  12. I am very interested in seeing this, whenever I get the chance.

  13. its a really good film. the third act is where it failed but not in the sense that you go away hating the movie. its a wonderful science fiction film great drama and characthers that drive the story home.

  14. There’s life in them thar ice! Always liked hard sci fi stuff. Definitely will take a look. Shaky cam or not.

  15. I saw this on Friday and I actually liked. Yes, the shaky cam is there but not as bad as say The Hunger Games which is nice. The sci-fi script was alright but the ending was great. I’d give it about a 3.5/5. It’s not the best I’ve seen but given the budget it did pretty good

  16. I really enjoyed this movie and just saw it via On Demand. I was surprised that the story had this mission as our first manned deep space mission since astronauts visited the moon in the early ’70′s. I would think that if we were launching a human trip to Europa, we would already be fairly established with an outpost on the Moon and on Mars, and possibly some type of mining facility in the asteroid belt. It would’ve been cool if the writers had incorporated a little more (near future) history.

  17. I really wanted to like this film but I just felt like the stakes were not high enough, I didn’t really care about the characters and I felt the way it was shot harmed the story. We never saw how the world was reacting to this mission, there would be religious people freaking out at the very least.

  18. I also think this is poorly defined as a science fiction… because it doesn’t deal with the consequences of this scientific discovery on the human race… and that’s what I wanted to see.

  19. I really hope it feels like good old school scifi movies were in the late 60′s early 70′s .