Europa Report tells the tale of a privately funded expedition to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon. It details the difficulties faced by those who might wish to attempt such an endeavour in real life. These include personal and psychological issues as the crew exist in a confined environment for long periods as well as elements of basic survival during space travel.
There is a scientific basis for such an expedition given the fact that NASA believes there may be liquid water under the frozen surface of this moon. Water vapour has recently been recorded erupting in localised plumes from near Europa’s South Pole by the Hubble Telescope which was strangely relevant to this movie’s release. The film-makers maintained regular contact with NASA throughout the production process with a view to ensuring that the technical aspects of the film were as accurate as possible.
Whilst it is not for us to say whether life could or couldn’t exist on Europa, it is worth remembering as you sit down to watch Europa Report, that nobody thought life could exist in the Earth’s deepest oceans or on the periphery of underwater volcanic vents. In fact, both regions have been shown to be teeming with life. Should Europa have its own volcanic vents, then who knows what is possible. NASA are apparently proceeding with an unmanned mission to further study the moon so perhaps we’ll know more in our lifetime.
What we can say for sure is that Europa Report whets the appetite for such a mission. There are a few recognisable faces in the film, most notably Dan Fogler and Sharlto Copely, but the performances in general from the small cast are excellent. In fact, most aspects of the film are extremely well developed. Obviously, the more scientific aspects of the movie go out the window a little once the film arrives at Europa but that’s the pay-off the makers have earned.
Intelligent and entertaining sci-fi is a rarity. So often, these films are either lacking in any scientific grounding or are simply an excuse to show little green men. Equally, there’s legions of crappy art-house science fiction which appeals only to the smuggest amongst us. Europa Report manages to avoid both of these pitfalls and makes for a solid, intelligent, well-made made piece of science fiction.
What makes it even more extraordinary is that the whole film was apparently produced for less than $10 million, a pittance by today’s standards.
Fascinating and recommended.
Reviewer: Dave Coughlan