Crashing buildings, giant robots and fantastic spaceship battles. This summer, I got visual carpet bombed. Yes, all this big budget, on-screen onslaught looked pretty spectacular but it somehow failed to make a connection with me. My mind needed a little rest. After all this fast food cinema, it needed some good 'ol 'home cooking'. Cue 'Europa Report'. I've seen this film getting positive reactions all over the net. So, I decided to see what all this fuzz was about and find out if all this praise is deserved.
It was meant to be man's greatest achievement. The first manned mission; heading towards one of Jupiter's moon's, Europa. We see Dr. Samantha Unger, lead mission planner for the Europa mission (Embeth Davidtz), clearly shook up and in tears trying to make sense of the last images that they received of the spacecraft 'Europa one'. At the same time, during the interview with Dr. Unger, we also see footage of the crew lamenting the loss of one of their own. From the get go it is clear, that something went terribly wrong. From that point on we get to see the footage from lift-off, the crew landing on Europa to them getting in over their heads, as they get more than they've bargained for.
At its core this is essentially a “found footage” film. Unlike the disastrously bad 'Apollo 18', the way this footage is presented makes sense and it used correctly. Making use of on-board camera's, handy-cam's, exterior ship camera's and helmet recording's. It is fortunately never 'in your face'. It is also thankfully devoid of the dreaded shaky-cam. The movie pulls you in immediately. It makes you feel excited as Dr. Unger, Dr. Sokolov (Dan Fogler) and Dr. Tarik Pamuk (Isaih Whitlock Jr.) present their findings and discoveries about Europa and announce the mission during a press conference.
We learn about the crew and their backgrounds through pre-recorded interviews. Captain William Xu (Daniel Wu), Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley), Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo) and Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist). All more than capable men and women that are specialists in their own field. You feel the electricity in the air as their enthusiasm hits you, the viewer when their spacecraft lifts off into the great unknown. These are real, likable people that act and react realistically throughout this movie. It goes without saying that all the actors bring their A-game to this and create an ensemble that you root for.
|"Gimme some sugar baby"...|
The technology in this films is firmly rooted in reality. No crazy gadgets, propulsion systems or spacecraft designs. This might even be a model for an eventual manned mission to mars. The questions asked in Europa Report are interesting as well. Who and what are we? Where do we come from? I would even say it makes a point that some sacrifices are not in vain. It's a movie that leans towards films like 2001: a space odyssey and even 2010.
At points the movie tends to slow down considerably. The film's biggest strength though, is the ability to pull you back in as soon as soon something happens. It also makes you feel for the crew as they go through their trials and tribulations. Making you feel as if you are there, going through whatever it is they are experiencing. Even at its most dire point the movie keeps its sense of wonder and hope.
|After some Corona's and tequila, this is what my Friday night looks like.|
Great performances all round, excellent directing by Sebastián Cordero; beautiful music by Bear Mccreary, top notch visuals and best of all, a story that does not insult the intelligence. In this day and age of big-budget action, destruction and mayhem; it is refreshing to see that the thoughtful, intelligent science-fiction movie is still very much alive. The heaps of praise thrown upon this movie is more than deserved. Yes, believe the hype and go see this movie.