LAFF 2013: EUROPA REPORT Movie Review
The cinema landscape of today feels like every movie needs to be the “biggest thing ever.” It’s no longer enough to have a simple story between relatable human beings, they need to be super or face a super villain or face unsurmountable odds on a global scale. This is especially true in science fiction films where the science has drifted further into fantasy. It’s been years since a solid Science Fiction film, note the capitals, has hit theaters and I’m pleased to report that Europa Report breaks that streak.
Taking a note from actual scientific news, Europa Report follows a crew as they make the long journey to Jupiter’s moon in search of biological life. Using a mixture of found footage and documentary style talking heads you’d see in any Discovery or National Geographic piece, it strikes a balance of realism and observational distance that would not be achievable in another format. However, the non-linear storytelling does suck out some of the tension and diminish the deaths of some of the crew. This flaw did not ruin the other elements of the film as the main questions of how and if the ultimate Europa mission succeeds were handled in a much more engaging manner.
The strength of the cast, filled with many unknowns including Sharlto Copley (District 9) and Embeth Davidtz (Mad Men), elevate the contained story and make you truly care for their journey and earnestness for scientific discovery. They make what sounds like a tired story on the page come alive on the screen and humanize the science in the film. Sharlto Copley does a completely believable American accent as well, so I hope this is just the beginning of his career in American film. He’s got Elysium on the docket next, and if that does as well as I hope it will, the sky’s the limit from there.
The film is available on VOD and will open on at the Sundance Sunset in West Hollywood, E Street Cinema in Washington, and the Cinema Village in New York (followed by a national roll-out).