DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

EUROPA REPORT (director: Sebastián Cordero; screenwriter: Philip Gelatt; cinematographer: Enrique Chediak; editors:  Aaron Yanes/Alexander Kopit/Craig McKay/Livio Sanchez; music:  Bear McCreary; cast: Christian Camargo (Dr. Daniel Luxembourg), Embeth Davidtz (Dr. Samantha Unger), Anamaria Marinca (Rosa Dasque), Michael Nyqvist (Andrei Blok), Daniel Wu (William Xu), Karolina Wydra (Dr. Katya Petrovna), Sharlto Copley (James Corrigan), Dan Fogler (Dr. Sokolov), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Dr. Tarik Pamuk), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Himself); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Ben Browning; Magnet Releasing; 2013)

"An exciting but subdued sci-fi thriller about astronauts on a fouled-up mission to find out if there's life on Jupiter."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ecuador born director Sebastián Cordero ("Chronicles"/"Rage") helms another one of those found footage mystery films, in the same mode as The Blair Witch Project but thankfully without a shaky camera. This one is an exciting but subdued sci-fi thriller about astronauts on a fouled-up mission to find out if there's life on Jupiter. The low-budget pic, shot in black and white, has a fine international cast and a sterling screenplay by Philip Gelatt. Its credible premise was inspired by the 2011 discovery of lakes beneath Europa’s frozen surface.

It opens as we're informed the Europa mission, sponsored by private corporations, while on its maiden voyage lost contact 19 months after its launch. In flashback we observe through discovered footage, recorded by the crew, some evidence of what might have happened on the mission. Thereby practically all of the film is shot on the claustrophobic interior of the spacecraft. We soon learn that when the spacecraft lands on Jupiter’s moon of Europa, the crew spots something outside the ship, and that danger sign clues us in that there will trouble ahead.

Warning: spoiler in next paragraph.

The story revolves around the crew disappearing one by one as they explore the troubling unknown atmosphere of Europa and that coincides with a bunch of technical malfunctions. The suspense is eerie and gets raised until we at last learn that a monster is the cause of all the havoc.

The sparkling international cast include the following: American actor Christian Camargo (The Hurt Locker), Polish actress Karolina Wydra (Crazy, Stupid Love), Chinese-American action star Daniel Wu (Jump), Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist (Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days), and District 9's South African actor Sharlto Copley.

Since it was produced in collaboration with NASA, you can bet on the facts being right. Even though not action-packed or framed like the blockbuster sci-fi thrillers, I found it more entertaining for adults and probably a more fulfilling space film for sci-fi buffs.

REVIEWED ON 11/28/2013       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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