Monday, November 25, 2013

Europa Report, The Horrific Moon of Jupiter

I was not expecting much when I put the Europa Report (2013) into my DVD machine.  A modern term for B-movie is "straight-to-DVD."  Hence a straight-to-DVD movie about a manned space mission to Jupiter's fourth moon had cheap sets, bad CGI, and wooden acting written all over it.  To make matters worse, the whole movie was filmed in a studio in Brooklyn.  A definite loser.....or so I thought.  I could not have been more wrong.
The plot:  A private space mission is headed to Europa.  The belief is that oceans exist under the icy crust of this moon....and where there is water, there is life.  A small international crew (U.S., China, and Russia), portrayed brilliantly by a largely unknown cast, must battle close quarters and eventual isolation in order to reach the Jovian satellite.  Then bad things happen.  They lose communication with Earth, and a crew member perishes when he tries to repair them.  Without communications, the crew plods forward, toward Europa.
They reach Europa.  The sets are magnificent.  Icy, cold, isolated, and menacing.  Weird stuff starts to happen.  The probe that penetrates the ice and enters Europa's ocean is destroyed by a monster (which we get a good view of later).  One of the Russian crew partakes in a chilling moon walk to take samples with horrific results.  Will the crew be heroes or martyrs?
One can easily see the influence of some good movies in Europa Report.  2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, Apollo 18, and 2010 are just a few of them.  The most moving performance in this brilliantly acted film is that of Embeth Davidtz.  She plays Dr. Samantha Unger, the director of the mission.  She tells the story of this mission from her perspective here on Earth.  Her emotions and reaction to the mystery that engulfs this mission are heart-felt.  She possesses a humanness that was lacking in the above-mentioned movies.  Her ability to tell the story keeps the viewer at the seat's edge.

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