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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Europa Report
Directed by Sebastian Cordero
Magnolia Home Entertainment 08/13 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 sci-fi action and peril

This sci-fi thriller is set in a post-NASA future when space travel has been taken over by corporations. Dr. Samantha Unger (Embeth Davidtz), who represents a company called Europa Enterprises, is very proud of her project; she has put together six astronauts in a $3.7 billion spacecraft to explore the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. These adventuresome souls are charting new territory in their quest to find possible life beyond Earth. And they are traveling farther than any other human beings in all of recorded history.

But sadly, seven months into the mission they encounter difficulties they had not planned for and the video feed back to Earth suddenly goes dark. We are privy to seeing what happens to them next, thanks to the onboard cameras which record everything on the spacecraft.

The first catastrophe they face is caused by a huge coronal mass ejection from the sun which fries their communications equipment. Second, the chief engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist) and the chief science officer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley) venture outside the craft to fix it and one of them becomes unanchored and dies as he drifts off into space. Despite this tragedy, the crew decide to continue on.

Mission chief William Xu (Daniel Wu) and pilot Rosa Daque (Anamaria Marinca) land the spacecraft on Europa but not quite in their target zone. When scientist Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo) reports that their drill samples do not show the evidence of life under the surface ice they had hoped to find, marine biologist Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra) volunteers to go outside and gather some samples from a more promising area. She is elated when scans of the surface ice reveal algae-like organisms. They have found "the most profound discovery in human history." But now they must get this news back to Earth.

This compelling and claustrophobic film is directed by Sebastian Cordero with a thought-provoking screenplay by Philip Gelatt. Looking for life on other planets is a staple in science fiction films, and here there are a few new twists and turns. By the end of this film, we shared the astronaut's awe at what could be and also were convinced that outer space is both a very mysterious and a very dangerous place.


Special features on the DVD include "Exploring the visual effects of Europa Report"; the musical journey of Europa Report; a behind the scenes photo gallery; and the theatrical trailer.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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