Europa Report (2013)

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Let’s make something very clear here: Space is dangerous. Some day, I might travel to space, but not until some REALLY BIG CHANGES are made to how things are done.

Until that time, I’m perfectly content to be an explorer by looking at photographs and movies. Movies like Gravity (2013), and now, Europa Report.

Europa Report, much like the movie Primer (2009), delivers a tremendous cinematic experience with a minimal budget. Primer for example, was made for 7,000 dollars. Basically, that’s how much your typical Hollywood feature spends on toilet paper. Europa Report was made for less than 10 million, still considered small compared to a movie like Gravity, made for 100 million dollars.

By comparison, for 10 million dollars you could make only 3 Super Bowl commercials. For that reason, not to mention that the main requirement for playing football seems to be having a degree in sociopathic behavior, the Super Bowl should never be played again. Never ever.

Have you noticed that people use the expression “not to mention” just before they mention the thing they say they’re not going to mention!  How did THAT get started?

But I digress.

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Europa Report tells the story of a manned mission to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Two key features of the movie are, 1. The storyline is non-linear. The shifts in time are clear by paying attention to the month/day/hour/minute/second counter that shows up on the screen. This doesn’t help too much though if you’re like my wife Jenny, who tends to focus on the haircuts of the actors, or wondering how they felt while they were filming a certain scene, while missing things like dialogue and events. But that’s OK, that’s why we have pause buttons and husbands. And 2. It is filmed as a documentary, most of the story told from the point of view of cameras mounted inside and outside the ship and the spacesuits. As the title tells us, this is the “report” of the mission.

We learn early on that things start to go very wrong on the mission. Finding out what happens contributes to the overall suspense, but thanks to director Sebastián Cordero, several sequences deliver edge-of-your-seat tension. The final 5 minutes are as suspenseful and haunting as any number of movies with unlimited budgets could deliver.

A large amount of credit also has to be given to composer Bear McCreary. Using a combination of solo piano, strings, and synthesizers (which give us oscillating sounds which sound like the machinations of the ship, but are reminiscent of our pounding heartbeat), that becomes a major component to the film’s success.

Success? Aesthetically yes, monetarily, no. To date the movie has made only $125,687. Too bad. C’mon, be one of the few that have seen this. In a way, you’ll be an explorer, speeding past useless movies into the uncharted territory of quality films. C’mon, it’ll be fun, and much safer than the real thing.

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4 thoughts on “Europa Report (2013)

  1. This film is a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apollo 18, with a chapter from 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clark (the book way better than movie) thrown in about a tragic attempt by the Chinese to land on Europa. The poor box office gross due, no doubt, to film made available on iTunes and Google Play Movie one month prior to theatrical release. Anyway, thanks to the blog post, I found it on Netflix and enjoyed the acting, music and suspenseful scenes. Found footage technique well done. Interesting depiction of the mission more important than the individual (or, as related in Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few…or the one.”

  2. Another great writeup Mike. There are few ‘decent’ (as in the sense of non-contaminated) movies today. And few of them are decent (in the sense of ‘worth watching’). Your blog can save a decent person some decent time. Thanks too for the heads up on highly suspenseful movies. I have enough stimulation in my day-to-day life that I avoid those types of movies. I also avoid caffeine. [Don’t feel sorry for me – I don’t need it. The caffeine that is.] At any rate, your reviews make me think twice about missing movies like this one and Gravity. Back in the old days, I wouldn’t wouldn’t have thought twice about seeing either one of these. Too bad there won’t be a ‘Man From Snowy River – Episode III.”

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