Europa Report (2013) (PG-13)

What is it about deep space that can be so terrifying? Is it the emptiness of space, as best seen in Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey?"? Or is it the possibilities that can crash down around you, brought to explosive fruition by the more recent space thriller "Gravity"? It comes down to the fear of the unknown, which is the basis for almost all scares in horror movies. Except this unknown fear is acknowledged by all the characters in "Europa Report"—they realize that they might stumble across the fact, they plan on it; they hope for it.
It's easy to forget a movie like "Europa Report" in a year such as this. When big name directors are releasing their newest project and big casts fill up the screen with phony movies—*cough* "American Hustle" *cough*—a film such as this one can get left behind and forgotten completely...which is precisely what has happened.
Filmed in a very appealing and effective documentary style, "Europa Report" brings 'archival footage' of the lost spaceship Europe One. This space craft lost contact with Earth month into their voyage after their ship was damaged.
Europe One was sent into space to Europa, one of Jupiter's moon, to see if there was life present. The data all implied that there was water beneath the massive ice formations that built up on Europa's's up to a team of six to try to find life on this distant moon.
Knowing that they are heading out on a fool's mission, the team spends two years aboard the ship, traveling towards the planet.
What they actually find there may change humanity forever.
"Europa Report" is a perfect example of people utilizing their materials to the best of their abilities. Everything in the movie screams out "low-budget". Knowing that they would not be able to compete with blockbusters, the filmmakers and screenwriter Philip Gelatt chose to make the film in a documentary style.
The result of this is a very well-done "Big Brother" episode in space. We see the day to day activities of the crew. To be fair, most of the two years is edited out and unnecessary—we only see the interesting moments.
When you consider how much dead time these six people had to face while traveling towards Jupiter's moon, it makes everything a little less intense. But the scenes are quite entertaining. For little camera movement and no real spectacular cinematic feats, "Europa Report" manages to not feel contrived or phony.
Yet there are problems with the movie: it over-indulges in its documentary style sometimes...leaving us thinking that these are actors and not people. The movie also doesn't have the most satisfying ending. The final scenes compromise any deeper meaning that film was working towards.
Still, it is an enjoyable film, and quite astonishing in its own right, considering on how well they make their style of picture work.
"Europa Report" was directed by Sebastián Cordero, a director whose work seems to constantly go unappreciated. This could be his biggest hit, we'll just have to see. 
I think the best way I can describe "Europa Report" is "The Blair Witch Project" meets "Alien". There are moments in the film that have staggering issues, but on the whole, why shouldn't this movie be seen an appreciated.
The poignancy of the film is paper-thin and the two comparative acting "veterans" of the cast—Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist—do the worst acting jobs in the entire movie.
So the film has a few problems...yes; but does that ruin it? No.
"Europa Report" is a very safe movie, but its safety paid off because it is quite enjoyable.

Score: ★★★

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