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Europa Report

 

Just when I thought I was over the whole found footage film trend comes Europa Report to remind me that it can still be effective when done well. Europa Report is a smaller, quieter sci-fi movie dealing with a manned mission to the Europa moon of Jupiter to search for life. Pockets of water have been detected beneath the frozen surface, and where there is water there is usually life. Europa Report tells the story of a six person international team of astronauts sent on a long-range mission to gather data from Europa. The story is told through footage from various cameras aboard their vessel as well as through interview and news footage of team members on earth.

Two elements work to elevate Europa Report above the glut of found footage copy cats that came in the wake of the Blair Witch phenomenon. First, the film tries to take its premise and associated science seriously. This is not a flashy film, and some might even find it slow. With several nods to 2001, and the often static photography the premise requires, the film attempts to depict the mission realistically and keeps the suspense and interest thorough grounded character and plot developments as opposed to bombast.

Secondly, I found myself generally caring for the astronauts. There are heartbreaking moments in the film, as well as terrifying ones, and examples of courage in the face of the unknown. I found it all rather resonant due to the fact that I felt as though I could believe in these people and their mission. When things begin to go wrong, it hurts.

Europa Report also jumbles the chronology at times for dramatic effect, and the foreshadowing created provides just enough information to create dread while leaving enough holes to allow the tale to still unspool with surprises. We are often provided with mission time stamps and other critical information on the camera or news views, so at times you must pay careful attention to follow the chronology.

Europa Report does borrow from other films in the genre, including the aforementioned 2001 and Blair Witch, as well as the Abyss to name a few. However, the film approaches its story and characters with respect and conviction, and the end result is an engaging hard sci-fi film; something we rarely see these days. This mission is worth embarking on.

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