Thursday, July 24, 2014

Europa Report (2013)

Director: Sebastian Cordero

This movie is incredible. And it's not for everyone.

Europa Report is probably the most sober, carefully-researched film tales about space exploration that I've ever seen. In other words, it truly puts the "science" in "science fiction." For people who like verisimilitude in their movies, this is more than welcome.

This tight, 90-minute movie follows the fictional tale of a privately-funded mission to explore Jupiter's moon, Europa, where signs of water have been found. This evidence opens the possibility that life may be found, as well, which leads to a half dozen astronauts being sent on the epic 22-month flight to reach it and attempt to add to mankind's knowledge of the solar system.

Of course, things do not go as planned. However, unlike 99% of space exploration science fiction out there, the perils depicted in Europa Report are all very realistic. Never mind the numbing boredom that must ensue when one is stuck for 22 months straight with five other people in a spacecraft the size of a modest apartment. In space, when a very real problem occurs, there is no margin for error. If an error is made, chances are that someone is going to die. Such threats are a very real part of Europa Report, as they are with space journeys in our own real history. And with only six members in the crew, each life feels that much more precious and vital to the mission.

One of the most realistically conceived and presented science
 fiction crews ever assembled. Though fictional, what they
represent commands the respect and admiration of us
viewers throughout the film.
The characters are great. The writers avoided the pitfall of trying to make everyone "a character," and instead gave us six very natural people who do nothing to create any of the drama themselves. Each of the six is incredibly smart, capable, and dedicated to the mission of learning in the face of extreme risk. Yes, a few of the crew are a little more amiable than others, but there are no "villains" here. There is nothing to root against in this movie. Rather than seeking heartstrings to pull on, the writers and director wrap us in the intensity of dealing with high-stress situations in order to save comrades and contribute to mankind's greater good. It's a far more noble theme than what is presented by the vast majority of science fiction movies.

The final thirty minutes of the film are astounding. Once the craft and crew reach Europa, accidents and wonders converge to create the suspense, awe and terror that the great explorers of human history must have felt. Vespucci sighting the North American coastlines. Magellan discovering the massive native peoples of Patagonia. The first hunters to set sights on a blue whale. The power of these immense discoveries is echoed in the climax of Europa Report, and its something to be treasured.

Some people might watch the movie through to the end and clamor for a sequel. Though the film certainly sets up in a way that a sequel would seem logical, this would be misguided. The point of this film was not to set up some kind of sci-fi movie franchise series. The point was to remind viewers of just what may be lying out there in the farther reaches of our own planetary system.

If you're expecting Alien, Aliens, or Star Wars, you'll be bitterly disappointed. If you truly love science and the scientific process of adventure and discovery, then you will definitely want to check out Europa Report