‘Europa Report’ (**)
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Embeth Davidtz, Daniel Wu, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra
Written by: Phillip Gelat
Directed by: Sebastian Cordero
For those that aren’t aware, Europa is a moon of Jupiter. It’s more well-known than other terrestrial objects due to the proliferation of ice on its’ surface, combined with the possibility that life may have a way to exist underneath. This movie explores, poorly, a scenario in which humans actually travel to this moon in hopes of discovering something significant. This journey takes nearly two years to complete, and the toll it takes on the crew is investigated. The film is shot in the popular ‘found footage’ style- I imagine the reason why is due to the lack of a sizeable production budget, thus the need to alter the script. It’s possible that this is a better movie if the plot played out in a traditional sense, and not through a recording.
Aside from the silly story device, there are other problems. Somehow, even with a topic this fascinating and significant, this film cannot get past using worn sci-fi clichés to advance the plot and tie loose ends. For the first time (that I’m aware of), we have a film that takes place on a MOON OF JUPITER, with the gas giant looming in the background, yet we only get to experience a slice of Europa on film. Can you imagine the amazing vista the alien world of Europa would be? The vast plains and valleys of ice? I have imagined it many times over, but alas, this film either isn’t interested, or doesn’t have the capacity to mine the depths of wonder that Europa could offer. Instead we have a few moments of real danger involving radiation and what amounts to a super-powered heat lamp disguising itself as a creature from “The Abyss”.
I looked forward to seeing this, hoping that if nothing else, it would be polished enough to pass for something exciting and deep, like “Moon”, or a film that encapsulated the mystery of Jupiter like “2010: The Year We Make Contact” did. The original trailer, released earlier this year, was promising, and showcased Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) and Michael Nyqvist (the Swedish-language ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ movies), even though they’re in more of a supporting role here. However, a polished turd is still a turd. We’re not talking about ‘SyFy’ bad, but this film is still completely underwhelming. It doesn’t mean anything when it should mean something.
*note- The “found footage” style of movie needs to take a real long break from appearing, if ever again. The story device was interesting the first few times, but it just keeps happening. Anymore, it’s become an excuse to proliferate an idea as opposed to being the idea itself. No more “Paranormal Activity” movies (too late), or “Cloverfield” spin-offs. Please.