Europa Report (PG-13)

SciFi/Fantasy 90 August 2, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Over their two-year journey to Jupiter, we watch the astronauts of Europa Report doing astronaut things: working out, cutting each other's hair, drinking their distilled urine from crinkly aluminum Capri Sun-like pouches. We see this on cameras set up inside their quarters-- the aesthetic is less the music of the spheres than it is life inside the Big Brother house. There are lots of convincing cutaways to footage purportedly captured by the craft itself: a slowly pinwheeling capsule; the sun the size of a dime. The movie has the drab quality of actual NASA video, which might be more effective if the scenario itself felt more realistic. But as the craft nears its destination-- Europa, that iced-over Jovian moon-- no amount of ascetic realism could disguise the script's hokiness. The mission turns out to be the stuff of a 1950s creature feature, padded out with survival-scenario dramatics: Someone has to take a risky trip outside the ship for [insert plot reason here]! The footage is presented as an ersatz documentary, with a couple actors playing mission control's talking heads, and a couple mysteries to keep us engaged: Did they find life? Why is one astronaut missing? And, most pressingly, if this film was truly assembled for us by the scientists who conceived of the mission, why does it hew to the dramatic beats of entry-level screenwriting, right down to the squirrelliest crewmember gazing out at Europa's surface and exclaiming, "I saw something!" exactly one-third of the way through the running time? Simply put, the care and thoughtfulness that goes into footage-faking has not been applied to script or structure.
Sebastián Cordero Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler, Anamaria Marinca, Isiah Whitlock, Karolina Wydra, Daniel Wu Philip Gelatt Ben Browning Magnolia Pictures


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