Saturday, September 28, 2013

Toronto After Dark 2013 Spotlights: My Thoughts on Europa Report

europareport

The found footage science fiction film Europa Report documents the first crewed mission to Jupiter’s moon of Europa.  It was recently discovered that there is water underneath the ice that covers the moon, which gives the possibility that there might be life.  The crew of the Europa One includes captain Willam Xu (Daniel Wu), second-in-command Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), science officer Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), marine biologist Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), chief engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist) and junior engineer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley).  Six months into the mission, a solar storm knocks out communication with mission control.  Many months later, communication is resumed and the truth of what happened to the crew of Europa One is finally revealed.

As exhausted as the found footage premise has become, I have to say that Europa Report is a found footage film done right.  You are never left questioning why the crew is constantly filming the events, since the bulk of the film is recorded with various cameras installed around the ship, which were meant to document the mission.  Since these cameras are always in a static angle, this solves the motion sickness problem found in many found footage films.  That said, there are still a few nauseating handheld shots.

The film is presented in a non-chronological order, with a mission counter appearing on screen to show when in the mission the scene is occurring.  The film is also broken up by a series of talking head interviews with mission control personnel, including the mission head Dr. Samantha Unger (Embeth Davidtz), as well as Dr. Sokolov (Dan Fogler).  This really helps to support the illusion that what you are watching is a documentary edited together from the crew’s recently declassified footage.  Of course, the illusion is broken a bit with the presence of recognizable actors, including Davidtz and Fogler, as as Sharlto Copley (District 9) and Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

As a science fiction film I thought Europa Report was absolutely superb.  The film was produced with consultation with NASA and I thought that much of the exterior footage was quite well done.  The film does progress into thriller territory in the latter half of the film, though these elements do not change the overall tone of the film.  This is unlike the third act change of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, which is the film I most closely equate with Europa Report.

Overall, I have to say that Europa Report was a very impressive science fiction film.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT