Europa Report (2013)
Directed by Sebastian Cordero
Ah, Europa Report. How I wish you could have washed away the intergalactic doldrums of Apollo 18. All the key components were in place… especially a good cast led by the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s Michael Nyqvist. What’s that you say? Isn’t Sharlto Copley the star? Nope. Before we get to all that though… here’s your plot.
Six astronauts are launched into deep space to investigate the possibility of life on an orbiting moon of Jupiter that’s covered in thick ice. Their ship, named the Europa One, is covered in cameras, and our crew is in constant communication with mission control… but as you may have guessed, something goes wrong, and it’s not long before our heroic troupe is lost in space. Well, not lost really as they managed to get to their destination before things went south. On earth all monitors are dark, but wouldn’t you know it? Just when all seems lost, coms are reestablished with the now flailing ship and the folks back home are inundated with all the footage that they had missed. Said footage is then cut together with random intervals of narration from the minds behind this failed expedition to the beyond, and boom! The Europa Report has officially been filed.
What we have here, kids, is basically a glorified found footage flick that’s so concerned with coming across with a message and being artsy that the experience goes from interesting to tedious to eye-rolling by the time we get to the end credits. One by one our crew, including the aforementioned Copley (who really makes not much more than a glorified cameo in the flick, disappearing for long stretches of time), is dispatched in various ways ranging from the results of being impatient to a mysterious radioactive moving “light” under the ice.
The main problem present here is that this flick doesn’t play by the proper found footage rules.
For example, the people at Mission Control, who are basically presenting the lost team’s footage for the first time so that their tale of heroism can be told, are hoping that the people who watch this footage will realize that the discovery made so many miles away from our floating green and blue orb was totally worth the risk and loss of life. The crew of the Europa should be remembered for their courage in the face of the unknown. I’m good with that, but would they really take the time to score the footage? You know… why not tack on a musical track to add some emotional punch to the plight of these poor souls, right? This takes you right out of the experience, and with films like this as soon as that false note is hit, the entire illusion is broken. Then again, maybe the music was added to make sure that the viewer was still awake by the end because it truly seemed endless. There are parts of Europa Report that drag on for so long you’ll be shocked when the realization sets in that it only ran an hour and a half total.
As for the final reveal of the otherworldly menace…. let’s just say that those damned moon spiders from Apollo 18 started looking better and better as the film went on. Though Europa Report isn’t as bad as that aforementioned mess, whose entire plot was based around a plot hole, it really isn’t that much better either. Skip this one until you happen to catch it for free on cable. At least then you can shut it off realizing that all you wasted was time and not money.
1 1/2 out of 5