The Europa Report – A Review

The Europa Report

Ah, The Europa Report. My regular readers will know that I included this film on my list of “5 films which showcase the best of found footage horror at the start of the year. Which sort of steals the thunder of my review, declaring my opinion in advance, doesn’t it?

Not that it really matters. To turn my usual mantra on its head, why say something in one paragraph when I can bore you for a whole post about it?

On a serious note, my opinion is unchanged (it’s a very good film), so that won’t be the point of this review. Rather, I will attempt to go into why I hold that opinion (that it’s a very good film). With me so far? Great.

The Europa Report tells (through the form of mockumentary pieced out of found-footage and talking heads) of the Europa One mission, the first manned mission to…Europa. You’d never get such unoriginal naming from NASA. The mission is, naturally, beset by tragedy and technical failure before they even reach the Jovian moon. What follows is a drama which plays out on the very edge of human exploration and discovery.

It is, as I laid out before, almost perfectly paced. The slow crawl to the final moments are set up with a documentary-maker’s sensibility. Talking heads are helpfully identified given that they are [spoiler?] not real people, and are intercut with “footage” of the mission in a non-linear order to ramp up the drama. Which is somehow more permissable since it’s set up as a documentary.

There are also two big points in its favour: Messrs Sharlto Copley and Bear McCreary.

Firstly, Sharlto. He was fantastic in District 9. He was fantastic in Elysium (yes, he was). We’ll gloss over The A-Team since it wasn’t really his fault that he was cast in a by-the-numbers 80s nostalgia-fest rather than its far superior cousin The Losers. In The Europa Report he manages to bring a sense of fun yet vulnerable gravitas, even as a fairly minor character. He sets the emotional tone of the whole film from a very early point.

Secondly, McCreary. I am a big fan of this composer’s work, and in my opinion he brought both Battlestar Galactica and Defiance to life. He weaves the same magic here, balancing the drama with the slow creep, the tragedy with the wonder. It is a soundtrack which supplements, rather than signposts, and really would be worth watching for that alone.

But in the end what really makes it shine for me is the same sense of hopeful wonder as made me adore Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. It isn’t as good as Sunshine, as a film, but it is a wondrous piece of remembrance of why we went into space in the first place, that urge to explore which drove us beyond the atmosphere and has driven myself and countless others to spend our lives dreaming of what might be out there.

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