Movie Review - Europa Report

There have been a number of films set in space. None of them capture the fear and adventure of space travel better than Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. There were scenes in this movie that reminded me of Gravity, despite the fact that Europa Report was released first theatrically. Written by Philip Gelatt, this film aims to be more sci-fi and leans more toward horror. It's no where near Ridley Scott's Alien. Structure-wise, it's more akin to Apollo 18 (2011). Europa Report has more of a message. It's a tragic message, but it's something way more substantial than whatever Apollo 18 was trying to do.

Director Sebastián Cordero, a filmmaker from Ecuador, incorporates a lot of news video, some real and some manufactured that along with the found footage angle lends a lot of authenticity to the movie. That authenticity is thrown out the window in order to advance the plot and prove the movie's ultimate point. Once Europa One arrives at Jupiter's moon, the six astronauts take a shuttle and land on the moon's icy surface. From that moment and forward, everything the astronauts do goes wrong and every decision they make only further endanger them.

It's the same criticism of Ridley Scott's Prometheus. I understand the argument that the filmmakers are trying to make a point and need to advance the plot to do it, so they need the characters to do certain things, but there are other ways the filmmakers could have gotten them to the same place. Like a horror movie, the characters get picked off one by one, until it gets to a point that you can predict the deaths miles before they happen.

The filmmakers would argue that being shocking is not the goal. The filmmakers would probably take the position that space travel is like cooking. You have to kill something in order to accomplish it. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

This wouldn't have bothered me, if a few of the deaths weren't so stupid, or the result of characters doing stupid things. Of course, discovering life on another planet within our own solar system whether it's microbes or an advanced organism would be the greatest scientific discovery in the history of mankind, but we're never going to make that discovery if we don't go out there. The question is if humans are willing to pay and possibly sacrifice lives in order to accomplish it.

I would argue that the price paid in this movie wasn't all together necessary. Because of the authenticity that the movie works hard to convey, the credibility of what's on Jupiter's moon is totally unbelievable. It again reduces the whole thing down to a monster movie where the monster only exists to lay in wait for humans to kill.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and peril.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.


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