Monday, December 28, 2015

Europa Report (2013) 2 of 4

** minor spoilers only **

This is a found-footage sci-fi film, with a good cast (including Sharlto Copley and Embeth Davidtz), about a manned voyage to the titular moon of Jupiter, in search of life in the solar system.  The film's main boast is its genuine knowledge and love of science, which informs every moment of a slow-burn thriller.  The characters are believable as adventuring scientists, with relatively little of the sexual and relationship gamesmanship you might expect. 

The main problem is that the story could've been covered in about an hour.  The only reason this international co-production is 90 minutes is our definition of a feature film, and perhaps the lack of an Outer Limits-like show to play host.  The film attempts to keep things moving with lots of special effects, mostly via the various screens in the spaceship.  This provides a dense visual look, often using split-screen, but the film's budget is too low for the CGI to really work.   

Europa Report is a close call.  The story has a remarkable resolution which convinced me the film's  an agnostic tract designed to upend the Bible (or religion) as a frame of reference.  I haven't researched that suspicion, but the imdb page describes a U.S.-Russia-China co-production, a provocative combination.  Also, science popularizer (and skeptic of religion) Neil deGrasse Tyson is seen briefly on a video (he says he wants to "go ice fishing" on Europa).

In any case, such deep thoughts are fair game for a smart film.