Europa Report - Online Review

'the inevitable falling apart of both the group and the structure of the mission is handled well, rarely dipping into cliché, though there is a terrifically clunky 'shall we take a vote?' scene'

Sebastián Cordero's Europa Report, filmed in 2011, is being pushed out onto various VOD platforms today, which seems something of an ill-deserved launch given its hold of a 6.5 IMDb average and a smattering of positive festival reviews. It's even more of shame considering that Cordero's low budget Sci-Fi Thriller is actually very good, a terrific example of what you can do with not much budget and a good story. It's also the sort of thing that, because of the budget needed, you don't actually get to see that often any more: an original story with, presumably, just enough budget requirements to make studios wary and not quite enough to convince them it can go all the way.

I've just finished reading James Smythe's The Explorer and, coincidentally, it and Europa Report share a remarkable amount of similarities. In Smythe's novel, the first manned deep space mission encounters several problems before it loses communication and drifts towards... something. In Cordero's film, the first manned deep space mission heads for one of Jupiter's moons, encountering several problems and eventually finding... something. There's a fascination in both texts too with discovery, something you feel both 'authors' feel we have lost. Both expeditions head, privately funded, to their destination not because they have to, but because they want to: because they can. In both there is a fascination with finding the unknown and documenting it, something most obviously shown in Europa Report's conclusion.

For something on its budget, it is not surprising that Cordero's film cannot maintain its own high standards throughout. Christian Camargo has a tendency to deliver things very flatly and is joined in that habit on occasion by Daniel Wu, whilst Embeth Davidtz and the other professor's 'interviews' are never convincing. There's also a retrospectively ill-advised Gravity-like scene which looks somewhat under-cooked considering how well we've now seen that sort of thing done, though kudos to the marketing department for resisting marketing the film on that scene.

On the whole though, Cordero makes good use of his two most recognisable faces (Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist) and crafts for them and the rest of cast enough to do over a manageable time frame (this is less than ninety minutes) before the gang arrive on Jupiter's moon. The space travel sections might chug occasionally but they're so brief they never stick around for long enough to really seem tiresome.

Once the group land on the moon, Europa Report really takes off. There's an effective pulling of the rug from Cordero which works well and speaks to the bleakness of the conclusion and the inevitable falling apart of both the group and the structure of the mission is handled well, rarely dipping into cliché, though there is a terrifically clunky 'shall we take a vote?' scene. In the chaos that emerges from the moon's service, Anamaria Marinca emerges with a very fine, nuanced central performance that manages to encapsulate the coolness of leadership and the fear of terrifying situations. Eventually, she carries the film and she does so without looking flustered.

An attractively bleak Indie Sci-Fi, based on an original story with ideas, and a willingness to be succinct? This deserves to find an audience.

Europa Report is released on VOD in the UK on 3rd March 2014.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. I've been surprised that I haven't heard more raves about Europa Report. I think it takes a very interesting approach to both sci-fi and the found footage arena. There were a few cool surprises, and most of the actors were good at playing it straight and not over doing it. This is definitely right up my alley, and I wasn't disappointed.

    1. Glad to hear someone else liked it Dan. Partially, at least on the UK front, I think that's because few have had the opportunity to see it up until now. I don't think it had any sort of cinema release and the PR communication I've seen seems to still suggest it doesn't have a physical media release: VOD only!