Director: Sebastián Cordero
Writer: Philip Gelatt
I recently saw the trailer for “Gravity” and it looks pretty neat. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are astronauts working on a satellite, but something explodes and they’re hurled into space. It looks visually lush and their cosmic predicament seems rather riveting. Then I saw “Europa Report.” “Europa Report” may have totally ruined “Gravity” for me.
“Europa Report” is the found footage thriller about the first manned mission to Eurpoa. Europa is one of Jupiter’s moons and it has a great deal of ice covering the surface with a strong likelihood of liquid water underneath. Since liquid water is one of the key variables for life, pretty much every scientific field is curious to what can lurk under the ice of Europa…except maybe the International Divine Science Association.
There are six astronauts in total and the trip itself takes about 15 months. The ship is large enough to rotate to create artificial gravity in certain sections of the ship. The gravity makes extended space travel possible, because prolonged periods of weightlessness causes bone and muscle atrophy. Anyway, that amount of time with the same people in close knit quarters results in some crew anxiety. It’s one thing when you’re taking off from earth or landing on an untouched terrain, but the year and a half in-between can strain one’s mental state.
“Europa Report” is an unceremonious take on what can go wrong in space travel. Characters don’t die because their arc is complete and it’s time for their souls to be redeemed. They die because space travel is exceedingly dangerous. The cast performs their rolls in similar fashion. They’re not overzealous heros or villains. They’re complex and uncertain human beings pursuing a goal…you know…like people. They’re also not models in space. I’m a huge fan of “Sunshine,” but that crew looked like they just came out of a GQ photo shoot. The strides for detail and realism really stand out.
The found footage format seems to be ideal for a story such as this. It grounds the material down to a level of realism that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to the style. Found Footage usually consists of someone deciding to compulsively film a camping excursion and then are attacked by a zombie, bigfoot, alien, or zombie alien bigfoot. It’s a scientific endeavor to Jupiter, it’s going to be recorded.
“Europa Report” not being a horror movie is refreshing. Moments are thrilling and there are many scenarios that are terrifying, but it’s more of a chronicling of events. It resembles more of a space disaster documentary than anything narrative. It’s fascinating above all.
All in all, “Europa Report” is an expertly crafted piece of cinema. I’m sure there were, but I couldn’t sense any apparent compromises in it’s production. I’m not sure how I would pitch it to an audience, but if you want to be absorbed into the abysses of space in a sobering manner instead of “Apollo 18,” I’d recommend this film. It’s an intelligent departure of the genre.
- They sleep in bunk beds? They don’t get their own rooms? That’s insane.
- Was “Apollo 13” the only movie that flew in a KC-135 to attain zero gravity? Filming with weightless equipment must have been nice.
- Wait, that was the guy from “Balls of Fury.” What the hell is he doing here?