Directed by Sebastian Cordero - Written by Philip Gelatt - Produced by Ben Browning - Starring Anamaria Marinca, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyquvist, Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley, Christian Camargo, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler
The "found footage" sub-genre of horror is one that has always had equal potential to impel creativity or to incite laziness. Europa Report, the new, low-budget film from Ecuadorian director Sebastian Cordero, isn't quite horror but it utilizes the overdone "found footage" lens in a surprisingly fresh and effective way. Rather than having someone record a series of tragic events for incomprehensible reasons, Europa Report's found footage schtick works because it's completely understandable why the events are being recorded. As a result, the choice rarely feels gimmicky (except during the commentary by "experts") and is bolstered by some utterly convincing production design by Eugenio Caballero.
Europa Report chronicles through mock-umentary the story of a six person, multi-national mission to Jupiter's moon Europa in search of new life. After a year of space flight, things start to go awry when a solar storm knocks out communications with Earth and, from then on, the crew must go it alone. Disaster after disaster occurs and when the crew finally makes it to the icy moon, they're confronted with a mystery that both fuels their curiosity and challenges their survival. In simplest terms, Europa Report is a little B-Movie that comes across as a mostly effective A-Movie. Sharlto Copley is the cast's greatest asset as James Corrigan, reminding once again of why he's one of Hollywood's underrated gems, but everyone turns in serviceable performances, even if they sometimes come across as trying to hard to be "natural" and "realistic". I'm still not sure what to make of Nyquvist, though, particularly in regards to his character's confused nationality. A few incomprehensibly dumb choices made by Europa 1's crew occasionally chip away at the believability factor, but as a whole the film seems more committed to achieving scientific accuracy than most. Its ambition may often exceed its ability, but Europa Report is still an admirable and somewhat thought-provoking breath of fresh air for the sci-fi genre.
See it: If you desire an above average and somewhat unique "found footage" film that boasts impressive production design.
Pass: If you have never been a fan of the "found footage" sub-genre, you demand an entirely convincing crew to man your space ventures, or you'd prefer those ventures to be big and exciting rather than small and cerebral.