EUROPA REPORT. Scientifically accurate hard science fiction
In the numerous cosmic expeditions that we, as viewers, have already had the opportunity to participate in, thanks to the imagination of creators, we have explored distant galaxies, planets, and races. Through scientific speculation, we have managed to reach Mars, approach the Sun, and even return to the Moon. Supported by the magic of cinema, like the universe itself, seems to have no boundaries. The Ecuadorian director, Sebastian Cordero, invites us on another journey through his latest film, heading to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, to once again search for the possibility of life on a celestial body other than our Earth.
Europa Report is presented in the popular found footage style, typical for horror and science fiction. Thus, the viewer is informed from the beginning that they are watching the supposed recording of a cosmic mission. The narrative is interspersed with archival interviews with Earth supervisors of the project, which unequivocally suggest that this mission did not end well.
The film’s expedition unfolds in a fairly standard manner for the genre. Initially, we get to know the six-person crew, and the purpose of their journey is outlined. The viewer quickly realizes the significance of this project. Dramatic events occur during the expedition to Europa, creating a knot of suspense, inevitably leading us to a surprising (although not truly unexpected) conclusion. It’s pleasing that the tension is skillfully escalated, making the last few minutes of the film riveting. However, one doesn’t need to be a film scholar to recognize that this film is a narrative “rehash.”
The events of Europa Report are predictable and can be summarized in a few sentences. Nevertheless, what matters is how the viewer is invited to participate in another known space expedition. Found footage once again proves its worth and demonstrates that it is currently one of the more interesting stylistic techniques used in films. Although it may be considered a somewhat worn-out style by many, it’s impossible to overstate its role in refreshing genre clichés.
Most importantly, Europa Report takes care to adhere to the scientific probability of the presented events. Cordero’s film can be classified as hard science fiction. Unfortunately, there are not many film representatives of this subgenre of SF, but those we know have generally been well-received, if not very well-received. Mentioning 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Primer, or Moon illustrates that realism in scientific fantasy has always been highly valued. Europa Report seems to be a spiritual successor to this trend, although it falls a bit short of its esteemed predecessors. If I were to accurately compare it to any film, both in terms of the plot concept and overall value, the most appropriate comparison would be with Apollo 18. The similarities are downright evident.
It can be anticipated that realism in SF will play an increasingly important role, to mention just Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity or Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Descriptions of their plots suggest full-blown hard SF. In recent years, there has been a certain reevaluation in the genre, and Cordero’s film is a good example of that. The film was created with quite simple assumptions and, when viewed in that context, defends itself quite well. It doesn’t seem to try to be anything more than a good refreshment of the classic genre motif. I wouldn’t advise you to expect anything beyond that.