Europa Report
Magnolia Home Entertainment // PG-13 // August 2, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 20, 2013
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A lot of science fiction flicks work with other worlds and various different plots. They often have some type of social commentary that is relevant to the present. However, Europa Report is about exploration and a big step for humankind. This is an incredibly familiar concept, but it's very different in its tactics and execution. This is an excellent opportunity to make a smart, mysterious, and scary motion picture that could promote itself through word-of-mouth. Since it recently played at the Los Angeles Film Festival, moviegoers are sure to begin talking about it. However, the crucial point is whether the consensus of the feedback is positive or negative. Apollo 18 was another science fiction flick with the intent to keep us at the edge of our seats, but it fell flat. It lacked any tension and failed to keep its audience engaged. Does Europa Report deliver what moviegoers have been craving for years? Not exactly.

An international crew of astronauts leave on a mission, which is privately funded. They are viewed as the world's best astronauts, as they're entrusted with discovering samples and answering a major question: Is there life on Europa? Europa is Jupiter's fourth largest moon, which is covered in a layer of ice. If humankind was aware that there are other life forms in the universe, the world would never be the same. After uncovering readings of something with a higher temperature, the group tries to discover if something is living on Europa. They just might get their answer.

From the same mind as The Bleeding House, Philip Gelatt wrote from concepts created by NASA. Unlike most science fiction pictures, Gelatt has put in the time to make this film as accurate as possible. This would allow for the narrative to become a lot more real for audiences. However, the characters themselves are everything but authentic. They don't receive disposition, making them incredibly bland. I wasn't able to connect with any of the astronauts, which quickly eliminated a large amount of the tension. Every now and then, the film refers to an interview being had about the subject on Earth. This harmed the pacing, as it made the overall motion picture feel disjointed. The audience is constantly made aware that we're watching found footage and it never feels as if we're amongst the astronauts on Europa.

Europa Report takes a page from Steven Spielberg's Jaws, since it keeps the threat hidden through the majority of the film. While the astronauts continue to see a light shining in the darkness, we never see what continues to follow the team of humans. This is the only tension you'll find throughout the entire film. You'll be wondering what is hunting them and just how dangerous it is. My mind started to create a monster based on the movie's information, which gives the motion picture a chance to be incredibly suspenseful. However, this ends up being a wasted opportunity. The setting and concept are never taken advantage of, since the film is more concerned with mundane actions than what's happening on Europa.

The climax makes a few improvements, since things begin to actually happen. Unfortunately, it's too late by this point. The filmmakers have failed to grab ahold of this opportunity and capture the viewers' attention. Instead, the screenplay provides a slightly dull look into how this trip would play out. The jargon is intriguing to listen to, but it only takes a science fiction thriller so far. It needs tension, thrills, and chills, but it doesn't deliver any of that. Instead, it leaves you feeling as cold as the ice found on Europa. The credits begin rolling and the first feeling that hit me was disappointment. I was look forward to seeing this for months, but it's ultimately nothing more than a letdown.

Even though the characters are incredibly flat, the actors themselves do what they can. I was mostly excited to see Michael Nyqvist as one of the astronauts, but even his talent isn't able to make this movie very intense. All of the performances are suitable, since they are very convincing as astronauts who want to be a part of humanity's next big step. They speak the intellectual language fluidly. There aren't any mediocre performances to be found here. Director Sebastián Cordero creates believable connections between the actors, which instantly gives the overall picture more potential. It's such a shame that the screenplay doesn't stand as tall as it should.

Sebastián Cordero's Europa Report isn't the first to go to the moon as an independent thriller. Moon surprised audiences around the world with its fantastic storytelling and creative visual design. Europa Report has a troubled plot, but everything looks good enough. Most of the feature takes place within the spaceship, which looks as one would imagine it would. However, the camerawork is incredibly irritating. There are numerous times when the camera pauses, yet the audio continues to play. The lagged video hurts the moviegoing experience, even if Cordero believes he's enhancing it. This becomes so distracting that it pulled my attention away from the story.

After an immense amount of anticipation, Europa Report disappoints. This trip to Jupiter's fourth largest moon is a wasted opportunity. Instead of delivering thrills, it focuses far too much on the jargon and the everyday activities of an astronaut on the job. Philip Gelatt's screenplay is the primary culprit for this film's final product. However, Cordero's lagged camerawork is rather frustrating. For a movie that's supposed to deliver a sense of mystery and suspense, it's quite dull. Europa Report is a step in the wrong direction for these exploration flicks. Skip it.

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