Europa Report Review
I think 2013 will be the year that science fiction on film proved its renewed longevity.
I feel like I am living in the 1970's again, when sci/fi was being churned out on a regular basis. It was a glorious time for the genre, and it kind of feels we are living through another sci/fi 1970's. Already this year we have had some fun examples, (Oblivion) poor examples, (After Earth) and great examples. (Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim) I haven't seen "Elysium" yet but I cannot wait, and we still have "Riddick" and "Ender's Game" and possibly other examples I'm just not thinking of yet. Now, I come to right of another example, a low-key, independent example that wasn't on my radar until I read about it on ITunes. I am talking about "Europa Report."
This review may displease some of you who have enjoyed my letter grades, simply because I am not sure which one I want to stamp on "Europa Report" yet. This is smart, calculated film-making, the kind that blindsides you and delivers reaction. I feel that the more you watch "Europa Report" the more you will notice, more that you will think about, more that catches your eye. In those terms, it is a hard movie to discuss on only one viewing, so please bear with me. Make no mistake though, this isn't an instance of a movie being good or bad, this movie is great and I am trying to sort out what level of greatness it is at.
The movie tells the story of the Europa One spaceship and its trip to one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter. Three scientists (Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler and Isiah Whitlock Jr.) have discovered what could be life on the moon and a billion dollar expedition has been planned to find out. A six-person crew is sent on the expedition, and at a crucial moment, all communications are cut off from Earth. The crew proceeds with the mission anyway, and what we see is the rest of the mission.
People who loved films like "Moon" and "Prometheus" will enjoy the hell out of "Europa Report." The film takes almost completely on the shuttle, and the film is stylish, claustrophobic and at times haunting. It reminded me of the best moments of "Sphere," one of my guiltiest of pleasures. Much like "Prometheus," the film is a slow-burn right to the end. The ending is going to make the movie for most viewers, I think. Because it certainly made the movie for me. It comes with a subtle crescendo that literally made me jump. I know there are also many people who aren't fans of the slow-burn, and this film may frustrate those folks. Even I admit that the pacing slows crucial moments down at times, but overall and I can't help but admit that I was overly-satisfied.
The film features Sharlto Copley who plays one of the crewman. Between "District 9," "The A-Team," and "Europa Report," the guy is putting together a nice resume. I can't wait to see him in "Elysium!" But in this movie, he is once again very, very good, quickly becoming one of my favorite actors working today. Michael Nyqvist, who you may remember from "Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol" or the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, does very good work here too. You may also remember Christian Camargo from the first season of "Dexter" and "The Hurt Locker." He is wonderfully fascinating. I love that this movie is not full of A-list actors, but completely recognizable actors. They all do a great job and deserve much credit. Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca, and Karolina Wydra fill out the rest of the cast, each of them equally superb.
I also got to say that the cinematography by Enrique Chediak is absolutely terrific and the music by Bear McCreary is eerie, epic and complimentary.
I hope more of you check this movie out. I would love to chat with somebody about the film's ending and whether or not it works for you personally. This is what science fiction film-making is all about. Generating a reaction and giving people something to talk about. For better or for worse, this movie will give you something to talk about. This will be an experience that may take a couple viewings to fully absorb, but I am ready and willing to go on this journey.
FINAL GRADE: A-/B+