Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
At long last, technology and knowhow have combined to send man to a place beyond the moon.  If not at warp speed as of yet, but at sonic speed.  The destination for this crew of scientific pioneers?  Europa, the fourth moon of Jupiter, and the name of the ship on which they will be traveling.  But if the trip went well, and they made it back safe and sound and it was all good, then we wouldn't really have a movie to watch, now would we?  The trip… well… didn't go great.  But fortunately we have FOUND FOOTAGE of that trip, and a video report of what happened to the good ship Europa in director Sebastian Cordero's very well realized found footage space opera, 'The Europa Report'.

Let's meet our crew, shall we?  Our captain and leader is William Xu (Daniel Wu), his co-pilot is Captain Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), we have Chief Engineer Andrei Blok and his right hand man James Corrigan (Sharlto Copely), and finally we have science officers Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra) and Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo).  I believe it's going to take about two years to for the Europa to make it to Europa, and since this is the modern age of television, cameras will be stationed all over the ship and broadcast back for the world to see.  What they didn't mention, but what no doubt would be necessary, would be the Tide, Bud Light and Head Shoulders banners flying under the video.  You know that's how it would be.

Unfortunately, about six months in, communications is lost.  Also, we lose a crew member.  This movie plays with the timeline of the lost footage so we have moments where we're with this crew member and moments where we are without this crew member and eventually we get to witness how this crew member is lost, and I have to say it is one of the sadder scenes in a movie I've ever seen. 
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Still, the mission to Jupiter must carry on.  The thought is, due to probes sent in the past, that at one time there could've been life on Jupiter.  Now from what we know scientifically this seems unlikely considering the temps in that area of the galaxy hover around absolute zero and the radiation from the sun is pretty high since there's no ozone or anything like that protecting the planet, but it looks as if there might be water on Jupiter, and where there's water, there is usually life. That's what they tell us.

Anyway, our astronauts finally hit Europa's orbit and the pod descends to the surface.  The plan is to drill below the ice, do some analysis and then head back to the rocket and go back home.  Since this movie is a Found Footage Film, there's a good chance they aren't going to make it back home since its Found Footage and not Hand Delivered Footage, but we hold out hope for them.  Wait… is that a light in that Andrei just saw through the window?  Let's hope he's just tripping, and let's hope that the drill wasn't attacked underwater… better still, let's get in the pod, get out of here and go home.  That's me talking.  Our scientists didn't travel close to a half million miles to cut and run at the first sign of trouble.  And as such, hopefully the found footage will tell the whole story.

If one were to ask me, Sebastian Cordero's 'Europa Report' is an impressive achievement on many levels.  For starters it has an actual basis in science, delivered in a style that's authentic and believable, yet also made easily consumable by the audience.  That, all by itself, is an achievement.  Another thing we appreciate is that in a sea of sequels, remakes, and adaptations, this is a semi-original story.  I only use the word 'semi' because there was an air of familiarity surrounding 'Europa Report' as the movie played out, but the narrative penned by Philip Gelatt still managed to maintain an air of wonder and surprise as the events on the Europa developed.  A narrative which is simple but also deals with more complex human conflicts such as loss, loyalty, loneliness and dedication to the mission.  But also one that doesn't unnecessarily inject any worthless melodrama into the narrative since none of the characters on this long journey felt any need to sleep with each other.  Thank God.

Now 'Europa Report' isn't the fastest moving movie out there, but it does use its time efficiently, as this slower pace is effective in building tension when the situation calls for it, and it also gives us a clearer view of our ship members and their personalities.  Thus if one of them should pass on, or two… or more… it has some impact.

What I didn't particularly care for in 'Europa Report', and this is a pretty major issue, is the end.  I'm still trying to work this out personally, and without giving anything away, something about the 'big reveal' which just didn't sit all that well with me.  I'm not sure if it was the delivery, or the subject matter or what, but it felt incongruent with what we had experienced up to that point, and changes the type of movie this is just a little bit.  There are some other odd things, more along the lines of inconsistencies that pop up while watching the movie, plot points that felt as if they were inserted because the film had to reach a certain point, as opposed to something that would actually occur.  For a multibillion euro mission, I gotta admit the Europa seemed a little unprepared.

Flaws aside, the good far outweighs the few negatives as 'Europa Report' is that rare movie that excites, while at the same time, stimulates the intellect just a bit.  An impressive achievement.
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