Saturday, 3 August 2013

Europa Report, dir. Sebastián Cordero, wr. Philip Gelatt, st. Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Embeth Davidtz

Featuring a slew of great players - amongst them District 9's Sharlto Copley, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's Michael Nyqvist, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' Anamaria Marinca - Europa Report resides very much in the more esoteric, existential offshoot of sci-fi, where larger themes of Man confronting the enormity of outer-space takes precedence over goo and guns. Told largely in flashback, Europa Report tells the story of a six-man crew on a 4-year round-trip mission to investigate the possibility of life on Europa - one of the frozen moons orbiting Jupiter. Using found-footage culled from the ship's CCTV - a cinematic device that usually has one wanting to jump out of the nearest airlock - a picture gradually forms of how things - inevitably - go pear-shaped. Cordero employs some natty set design and VFX and Bear McCreary's score is suitably elegiac, but the payoff, whilst fittingly low-key in keeping with the NASA-inspired documenting, comes off the boil come the finale. However, the sense of isolation and the impossible realisation of the distance the crew are travelling from Earth is terrifyingly palpable as they seek out new forms of life and civilization. Europa Report reminds us of the great mental conviction these science-pioneers possess and the heavy weight of loneliness out in the abyss. What with the trailers for Alfonso Curarón's Gravity kicking around the web at the moment in preparation for its release later this year, it seems like hi-concept sci-fi that lays its foundations on tone, atmosphere and more cerebral, literary narrative, is alive and well.