will either be private space exploration’s finest moment or its greatest
tragedy. For the six intrepid astronauts
in question, it will either be first contact or bust in Sebastián Cordero’s Europa Report (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is in fact theoretically possible Europa’s subterranean oceans could sustain
microscopic life. With that fact in mind, a private foundation sends forth a
manned expedition to survey and report.
Unfortunately, communications were lost en route to Jupiter, until a
sudden transmission was received out of the blue. Of course, that will be our movie.
it seems the Europa mission is merely beset by a series of technical problems
and human mistakes. Clearly, there is no
margin for error in the cold vacuum of space.
Yet, Cordero manages to subtly suggest there might be some other factor
at play. Despite damage to the ship and
fatalities to the crew, the survivors resolve to continue on, because mankind
may never get this far again.
most of Report is much more closely
akin to Apollo 13 than Ridley Scott’s
Alien and its subsequent imitators.
However, Philip Gelatt’s screenplay pushes in all its genre chips in the
jaw-dropping closing seconds that will resonate profoundly with readers of a
certain American author of the weird and fantastic.
Report operates on the premise that
all scientific pursuit is heroic, even when it is also strange and scary. Cordero and Gelatt seriously address themes
of courage and sacrifice, which adds surprising substance to the film, like a
Roddenberry script written amid a bout of depression. Cordero also nicely exploits the austere,
claustrophobic setting for maximum audience unease.
is frequently the case with found footage films, there is not a lot of
opportunity for old fashioned character development in Report. Nonetheless, the Europa
crew look and act like convincing astronauts.
HK movie-star Daniel Wu has a suitably authoritative presence as the
mission commander William Xu, while accomplished Romanian actress Anamaria
Marinca (probably best known for 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days) projects a natural sensitivity and perceptiveness as Rosa
Dasque, the co-pilot and archivist.
However, Dragon Tattoo’s Michael
Nyqvist lays on the Slavic accent with conspicuous thickness as engineer Andrei
To its credit, Europa Report is visually far more impressive than one would
expect, given its budget constraints and found footage conceit. In fact, it is a surprisingly effective hybrid
of science fiction sub-genres.
Recommended for fans of hard science based SF and Wu, Europa Report opens this Friday (8/2) in
New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Daniel Wu, Found footage, Sci-Fi films