Review: Europa Report / Cert: 15 / Director: Sebastian Cordero / Screenplay: Philip Gelatt / Starring: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Carmargo / Release Date: Out Now (VOD/Digital Download only)
Low budget sci-fi films, when done right, can be brilliant. You don’t always need bells and whistles to sell a story – Moon is a perfect example. Europa Report tries to showcase the loneliness of space and repeat the critical success of the lunar-based feature from Duncan Jones. Only this time, the story unfolds aboard the Europa One, a specially built spacecraft that is on its way to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, where it is believed that life may exist under the frozen tundra.
The trick here is that the found footage genre has a new subgenre – the delayed footage movie. Contact is lost with the ship during its journey and the Earth-bound men and women in charge of the mission are left wondering if the craft is still going. The question is answered when contact is finally established and the feed is serendipitously received right at the end of the film.
As obvious fans of sci-fi here at Starburst, it’s a real shame when we have to give an honest opinion on things that we so want to like, but end up disappointing us. There is so much wrong with Europa Report, it’s difficult to know where to start.
There is little to no character development throughout the running time. There is zero tension, and you are given no pointers that the mission is going to end up as disastrously as it does. When characters die, there’s no real connection for the viewer, you don’t miss them as you don’t really know them.
The science on show is apparently realistic, but that does not excuse the dullness of the story. You are constantly waiting for something to happen, and when it does, it’s a damp squib. Ironically, the fact that the build-up is so badly handled means that the running time is mercifully short. You have to wonder if it would have been much more interesting even if they had bothered to flesh out the characters. Let’s face it, we knew the crew of the Nostromo and cared what happened to them, but this is no Alien.
Perhaps it is most telling that Paramount haven’t bothered to put together a full retail release for this. This is one mission that should have been scrapped before blastoff.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10