The Space Reviewin association with SpaceNews
 

 
Atlantis at KSCVC
The new film Europa Report, available via VOD and in theaters in August, “is a story about how scientists can be heroes.” (credit: Magnolia Pictures)

Life and death and ice


Bookmark and Share

About a third of the way through Europa Report, the new movie due in theaters in early August, but currently available for rent on iTunes, I was admittedly a bit bored. The film is about a six-person mission to the icy moon of Jupiter that scientists believe contains a vast liquid water ocean underneath an icy shell. It is filmed in the “found footage” style that should have effectively died out by now, but is still apparently going strong. I’m tired with found footage movies. They’re intended to add a degree of urgency to a film, to make the audience feel that what they’re seeing could indeed have happened, and therefore heighten the suspense. But by definition, found footage movies mean tightly-framed shots, a limited color palette, shaky cameras, and none of the grandeur that makes films worth seeing on the big screen.

It is an interesting and thought-provoking film with a message: that there are people who seek to answer the mysteries of the universe and are willing to make sacrifices to do so, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice.

But around the forty-minute mark of Europa Report I really started to get hooked. The film drew me in. It’s difficult to explain why without spoiling a number of key plot elements, but I’ll provide one spoiler because it actually comes very early in the film, indeed in the first few minutes: one of the crew members dies, and this casts a pall over the crew, and one of the crew members in particular is severely traumatized by the loss. However, although the death happens early, we do not learn until much later what happened and how, and why one of the crew members is affected more than the others. That revelation is one of the things that hooked me, because it is remarkably realistic and therefore also quite scary.

The film then kept up the mystery and the suspense, and led to an ending that was both meaningful and emotionally satisfying. This is a film about adults behaving in an adult way, honoring each other, and their duty.

Europa Report is not a horror film, at least not in the true sense. But it is a drama that has elements of horror. Space is, after all, a horrible place. There are very few places on Earth that will kill you as fast as every other place in the solar system. The film is probably one of the most technically accurate space movies ever filmed; even that early death makes total sense. It is believable.

Europa Report is not going to find a wide audience. It features actors that most people have never heard of, and it is not a big Hollywood action film like so many of the other explosion and superhero-laden movies out this summer. But it is an interesting and thought-provoking film with a message: that there are people who seek to answer the mysteries of the universe and are willing to make sacrifices to do so, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice. It is a story about how scientists can be heroes.


Home