"I can't believe I'm here. This is incredible."
I enjoyed this science fiction film directed by Ecuadorian filmmaker, Sebastian Cordero. This is his first international film, having directed his previous films all in Ecuador. El Pescador is in my opinion his best film, but in Europa Report he has a bigger budget to work with and some recognizable actors. Now don't get me wrong, this is still a small budget film, but compared to Cordero's previous budgets he gets to play with some bigger toys here. The film has sort of the feel of other small sci-fi films like Moon or Sunshine, but lacks some of the character development that those movies had. What it lacks in that department, it makes up for it in the scientific department creating a credible and suspenseful plot. The film builds tension thanks to its claustrophobic atmosphere and builds expectations for the discovery of the unknown. The film could have been much better if it had stronger characters and if it were edited differently. The film has a documentary style to it with closed and steady camera angle shots with a lot of static going on. The footage is also shown in non-linear fashion despite not having a major reason to do so. I had high expectation for Cordero's film, and despite having enjoyed it I still felt a little disappointed. I would have preferred it to focus more on the character development which would've allowed me to get emotionally involved with the film. Since I didn't care much for the characters, I felt a little detached to the science exploration.
As the title suggests, the film works as a report given by the crew of an exploration team sent to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, where scientists believe that uni-cellular life organisms may exist. The international exploration team consists of the pilot, Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca from 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days), the Chief Engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist from the Millennium trilogy), Engineer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley from District 9), Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), and William Xu (Daniel Wu). We follow their expedition through footage from the shuttle. It is done in documentary fashion like The Blair Witch Project which allows us to experience the claustrophobic atmosphere and tension, while at the same time marvel at the possible discoveries in deep space.
Cordero gets all the scientific elements right. The screenplay was written by Phillip Gelatt and it succeeds in creating an original and believable plot, but it fails at giving the characters any depth. The film is only about 95 minutes long and there is nothing we can say about the personalities of any of these characters except for the fact that they are willing to take risks in the name of science. They might as well have sent drones because none of these scientists seem to have personalities. It is a shame because the scientific elements work really well and Europa Report could've worked much better as a thriller if it took time to create more interesting characters.