Europa Report Screen 8 articles

Europa Report


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  • This is yet another found-footage film, but for once that gimmick partially works; this is a far more beautiful and accomplished feat of craftsmanship than the dreadful, similarly themed Apollo 18... But the film is still bone-dry. After a while, it's hard to escape the fact that the audience is watching a potential monster movie in which most of the fun stuff—i.e. the monster—has been pared away, leaving us strictly with the dull, anonymous crew members.

  • The sights are gorgeous—a seamless mix of archival imagery and impressively rendered digital views of our galaxy—and the science is, to layman’s eyes and ears, more than credible... Once the crew lands on Europa, the film falls back on some slasher-movie goosing that slightly cheapens the otherwise admirable, 2001-like philosophical inquiry. The journey ends up being a tad more satisfying than the destination.

  • I wouldn't call Europa an unqualified success. Its ambitions clearly exceed its technical resources—the space shuttle where most of it takes place feels a little too basic in its design—and the overearnest dialogue will strike many viewers as wooden. Yet there's a nostalgic charm to these qualities, which harken back to old-school sci-fi movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

  • This is a classic space-mission-gone-wrong movie, with obvious echoes of Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” and numerous others. But where those films used space exploration as a metaphorical way to attack Big Questions, Cordero and Gelatt have made a new-school “hard sci-fi” movie, sticking closely to the real or at least plausible science of space travel and the search for alien life.

  • At times Cordero fills the screen with grids of monitors, enhancing the sense that there’s some weird extraterrestrial shit happening somewhere, but if you (and the crew) don’t pay close attention, you’ll miss it. The director seems to have attended a master class in video-glitch composition, and has also secured extraordinary visual material from the likes of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

  • Banishing showy effects and cheap scares, the Ecuadorean director Sebastián Cordero has meticulously shaped a number of sci-fi clichés — from the botched spacewalk to the communications breakdown — into a wondering contemplation of our place in the universe. Taking the high road throughout, he presents curious, idealistic explorers whose motives are as pure as the film’s compositions.

  • So many fact-based science fiction films make everything seem to run like clockwork, with the only snafus coming from human error or equipment mishaps. They forget what we have sought in space—the unknown wonders of the universe. What else is extraordinarily refreshing, something that harkens back to the fictions produced during the early days of space exploration, is a sense of excitement and awe the crew displays.

  • The very incommensurability of image and commentary reminds the audience that the film they are watching is a construction and that narrative is at essence a rhetorical form beholden to particular values and conventions, such as the climax. Europa Report is a narrative film willing to undermine its climax in order to think through the strictures on narrative film—a bold move rarely attempted even by other experimental adventure films.

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