Wednesday, 31 July 2013

REVIEW - EUROPA REPORT


Though Europa Report does just about nothing new, it at least does almost everything different enough from similar films to make it a worthwhile sit. Herein is evidence to disprove the prolific humbug theories - found footage that doesn't render the action unintelligible, a space exploration thriller that doesn't rely on aliens or explosions. Director Sebastian Cordero is chiefly occupied with establishing tension through tone, and evoking a strong sense of space (appropriately). This is standard sci-fi stuff to anyone who's seen Alien, but when one considers how often such films are made with total disregard for these issues, and how acutely Cordero nails it, it's only reasonable to be impressed. And despite the film's lack of distinguishable / conventional space-set thrills, it never resorts to the kind of generic suspense or horror tropes that could have stranded it anywhere in the universe - on solid footing here on Earth or floating above Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Cordero makes the setting the seventh character on board (and off) this vessel, and no matter how aware the crew members think they are of it, it will find ways to punish them for their complacency, and for their curiosity. A smart international cast seems rather more concerned with keeping their careers afloat than the usual ragtag bunch of teens who populate found footage films; their characterisation is stronger, but they fail to generate a sense of ease or spontaneity that's essential with this format. They face unknown threats and promises deeper in space than any human has gone before, the nature of which is wisely kept concealed... until a cack-handed ending that drowns every ounce of faith you had invested in the story. Up to this point, it's a darn good piece of work, Europa Report, so I won't denounce its many attributes. But none of those have lasted with me like that fucking ending.