Movie Review: 'Europa Report' -- 2 stars
Directed by Sebastián Cordero
Starring Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Anamaria Marinca
Playing at Cinema Village
The faux-documentary space thriller "Europa Report" has been praised for the verisimilitude in its portrait of a manned mission to the eponymous Jupiter moon.
The characters speak like astronauts and scientists, the filmmakers worked closely with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other experts to formulate things, and the found footage aesthetic enhances the sense that we've been taken onboard a genuine years-long endeavor to the outer planets.
But realism doesn't necessarily equal entertainment, and Sebastián Cordero's movie collapses in an avalanche of jargon.
An assemblage of surveillance footage and talking-head commentary, "Europa Report" follows the ill-fated mission of Europa One, a manned flight in search of life on Jupiter's most famous celestial body. It mostly consists of one-dimensional travelers played by Sharlto Copley ("District 9") and other international actors engaged in heavy-duty tech speak as they sit at computer terminals and float around the ship.
The concept involves the constant switching between static shots taken from Europa One's various cameras, so the movie feels more like a live-feed edit job than an expressive work of cinema.
Cordero maintains the convincing dynamic throughout, achieving a close approximation of real deep-space exploration. The stylistic gambit achieves perfection in a few haunting sequences as the mission proceeds farther into uncharted territory.
Still, the steadfast commitment to evoking the monotony of the Europa One experience keeps the movie from achieving a sense of wonder. And it dulls the psychological edge. There's a strange flatness to "Europa Report," a movie that should be imbued with an explorer's spirit.