“Compared to the breadth of the knowledge yet to be known… What does your life actually matter?”
This is one of the greatest questions to be found in the indie-sci-fi film, Europa Report. Is discovery worth the risk for the name of science? How far are you willing to go to find out if we’re not alone in the universe? We’ve all had that dream of being asked to take a trip into space in the name of history. Europa Report is the first film in a long time that makes a person want to refuse such a daunting mission.
The film revolves around a group of astronauts who are chosen to take a trip to Jupiter’s 4th largest moon known as Europa. The film is told very similarly to 2009’s sci-fi hit District 9, where everything has a documentary feel. During the footage of Europa’s mission, we get various interviews of people who were involved in getting the project rolling. The interviews are terrifically written with crisp intelligent dialogue that actually sounds like the words of a scientist.
As the film embarks on the main narrative, which is Europa’s mission, the journey seems glamorous and full of optimism. The astronauts are extremely excited about the exploration to come. However, the film plays with the audience’s expectations by jumping back and forth on the timeline, showing the effects of being away for so long in a confined space. All the glamour and optimism are suddenly watered down by the emptiness of space, giving a sense of extreme hopelessness to the trip. Especially, with how the film wonderfully makes you feel the stretch of time of the 2 years to Europa. I remember thinking while watching how tough it would be to digest that once you arrive at the destination, all you have to look forward to is another 2 years to get back home.
The cast is perfectly put together with some solid performances. One of the highlight performances of the film is Sharlto Copley (District 9) as James. His role is not very big by any means but the fact he’s so recognizable to the audience is perfect for where they take the character. Copley is proving once again that he can bring humor to a film as well as drama. Other recognizable faces include Dan Fogler in a surprisingly different role from what we expected.
Fogler is best known for crude unsophisticated comedies like Balls of Fury and Good Luck Chuck. Here we see him as a serious individual to the mission’s livelihood as an expert on the whole execution of Europa. Michael Nyqvist who is best known for playing Daniel Craig’s role in the Swedish Dragon Tattoo Trilogy also has some of the best scenes in the film. The narrative jumps in the movie show that the trip has taken the best of him of all the astronauts, but the reasons for it are slowly revealed during the unraveling of the footage. Once you find out, he perfectly sells the emotion.
Once you see Europa Report, it becomes abundantly clear why fans had so many complaints about Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Here, the astronauts actually speak and act in a manner that is believable to the profession. Not making clumsy mistakes that are clearly within their control. Every character’s actions seem reasonable to the overall goal of the Europa project. To find new life, even if it means sacrifice. When mistakes are made though, it is clear to the viewer that it is because of unforeseen variables. Which is expected sometimes in most space studies. They don’t walk up to strange space snakes and attempt to pet the damn thing. There is a level of caution that makes it feel like you’re actually watching a documentary about a real-life story.
If you’re a big fan of sci-fi entertainment, then Europa Report is a film worth checking out. Most expensive science fiction movies do not execute the level of realism as this one does, which is an incredible feat for being an independent movie. Europa Report doesn’t exactly offer much new to the genre, but what it does accomplish is improving on the dynamics of space films that came before. If you were disappointed in last year’s Prometheus, then I highly recommend washing down the bad taste with a slice of Europa. When the film concludes, you will question how much a life is worth for the answer to “Are we alone?”