Starring: Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Anamaria Marinca, Embeth Davidtz, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Dan Fogler
Running Time: 87 Minutes
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Journey with us to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter where there may be clues hinting towards our beginning and the beginning of life itself. EUROPA REPORT is a low-key take on a theme also covered in Ridley Scott’s overblown PROMETHEUS. Although the more subtle approach will certainly appeal to the more scientifically minded, the fact that nothing of note happens throughout the laborious running time, added to the messy use of the found-footage genre, means that EUROPA REPORT makes itself very hard to connect with..
Once again the idea of los footage, now found, is used in a way that suggests the filmmakers have no idea why they are using it. Yes, it does add a sense of realism to the film and the interplanetary views and locations are gorgeous. There are also plenty of shots that bring about the question of “How did they do that?” A question that is too often answered with the response “Computers,” these days. If CG was behind it, it was certainly seemless.
With such attention to detail and focus on realism, then it begs the question why big name stars were hired to act in the feature. Many of the faces are instantly recognisable, and worst still, some of them are incapable of giving a natural performance. Davidtz is the worst offender. Acting as the movie’s primary talking head, every one of her lines seems forced and scripted. Even when she breaks her train of thought, there is nothing that resembles the off the cuff pauses or facial expressions you’d expect. It’s a real blight on the film, and is a shame when the likes of Copley and Fogler are more than capable of acting as though their lines are thought of on the spot.
Outside of the confusing use of big names, the film offers little else. I appreciate a good slow build-up, and the way the film keeps to its own restraints such as a limited number of fixed cameras, is very admirable. This doesn’t circumvent a distinct feeling of boredom from dragging the film down. We don’t get to know the characters very well and there chemistry is also non-existent. Again, this reflects well in the realism stakes, as everyone is very professional towards each other, but it sure drains the life from proceedings.
A found-footage feature that examines the beauty of exploration and scientific discovery should make the audience feel as though they are there and experiencing something new and wondrous, instead of going through the motions with everything scaled down for the sake of realism. The film even seems to realise this in the last act where events get a little bit more interesting, but also relies heavily on music, which of course destroys the atmosphere it has been building. If space exploration is truly this dull, then it’s no wonder that interest has faded over the years.
(2 / 5)EUROPA REPORT is released exclusively on VOD and Digital Download from 3rd March.