Film review: ‘Europa Report’ finds life in vastness of space

Film review: ‘Europa Report’ finds life in vastness of space
Karolina Wydra, left, and Christian Camargo star in Director Sebastián Cordero’s “Europa Report.” Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

A conceivably striking and exciting piece of science fiction, “Europa Report” takes the audience on a captivating journey and places them in the eye of possibilities waiting to happen.When unmanned space probes imply the possible existence of a hidden ocean containing organic life underneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, a privately funded space exploration company dispatches an international crew of six astronauts to verify the data.

With a ship designed to suit their mission’s purpose, the chosen people are ecstatic about discovering the untold possibilities just waiting to be witnessed. The interstellar expedition takes a turn for the worse after a disastrous technical malfunction cuts off communication with Earth and leads to a crew member’s tragic death.

In spite of their losses, the surviving crew members must endure the challenges of space travel, and unlock the secrets of Europa to find the answer to one of humanity’s biggest questions: Are we alone?

The most striking aspect of “Europa Report” lies within its intricate use of cameras to tell the story. Director Sebastián Cordero details the mission via camera recordings of the crew and their ship, as well as interviews with the people back on Earth. Not once does he disrupt continuity or throw our attention off balance; he maintains a clear sense of awareness as we find ourselves becoming more and more immersed in the film’s setting.

Plus, this documentary-type shooting method creates a sense of intimacy while living in outer space, something I haven’t felt from watching space-oriented science fiction movies for quite some time.

On a side note, Cordero’s choice of camerawork adds an ethereal, majestic quality to the film’s already top-notch visuals. You’d think what you’re seeing on the screen — the ship’s exterior and interior, the terrain of Europa, the vast emptiness of the cosmos — is reminiscent of those shows you watched at the planetarium, only on a greater scale. Traveling through space to explore a moon for signs of life never felt so real…until now.

What I enjoyed most about “Europa Report” is the sincerity of its story; there are no hidden agendas for people to squabble over. Nope, this is an exploration voyage, plain and simple. Of course, there are plenty of twists and turns embedded in the crew’s journey that instill peril in the mission, so no one will have to worry about there being a lack of suspense. However, it’s refreshing to experience a science fiction film that has the confidence to be what it is and doesn’t pretend to be something far from genuine.

While the cast doesn’t consist of any big names the general public would know of, it would be foolish to disregard their naturalistic performances and the effort they put in to bring this nifty gem to life. Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra, and Sharlto Copley all did an excellent job in portraying the six astronauts, each of whom is a critical component to the mission at hand.

I think this film is right up a science fiction fan’s alley; it has the visuals, speculative elements, and characters to stake a claim of its own in the genre.

Furthermore, anyone who’s interested in astronomy or any topic related to hard science will enjoy “Europa Report” for what it is. As for casual moviegoers…well, if they can overlook the complex terminology and adjust to the fact that this isn’t a big-budget blockbuster, then perhaps they stand a chance of not falling asleep from boredom.

See “Europa Report” when you get the chance to, especially if you’re into science fiction. And if you’re in the mood for something to end your summer that doesn’t involve countless explosions or save-the-world scenarios, I strongly urge you to give this film a shot.


MPAA rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action and peril.

Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Playing: Limited release: Landmark Ken Cinema


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