Europa Report is the latest film to utilize the found-footage style to attempt to heighten the impact of its far from interesting story. Director Sebastián Cordero follows a strict tell, but rarely show method of filmmaking that makes Europa Report a disappointing bore that shows brief moments of potential, but ultimately cracks under the lack of focus and pressure applied by the director and his writer.
Sometime in the near future a group of astronauts set out for Europa, one of Jupiter’s largest moons. Their mission is to search for life and bring back samples if they end up finding anything. This is the farthest manned mission into the great unknowns of space ever, which means things will likely go wrong and the crew will have very little help on their long voyage into deep space.
Europa Report is the latest of many films to put to use the POV found-footage style that many horror directors have made a name for themselves using. The science fiction genre tried using this method with Apollo 18 and that ended up being one of the most boring films of that particular year. Europa Report fairs a little better, but still rarely makes good use of the filming technique.
There’s something very crippling about shooting a POV film. Directors usually use the method as a means of cheapening up the production budget and cutting corners in the editing bay. Europa Report occasionally makes good use of the popular filmmaking style, but it mostly suffers from the same problems that all found-footage films do. The constant jolting of the camera to hold back on reveals gets tired quickly and the “fuzzy” or ‘broken” camera feeds provide nothing but a giant headache for the viewer.
Director Sebastián Cordero keeps the film looking rather stunning whenever the special effects involving Europa and mostly anything in space are seen, but the film primarily takes place inside of a space ship, which is tight and crammed and makes no room for unique shots or interesting visuals.
There’s also a general disinterest spread out across the film’s entire story. Not one character in the film is worthy of remembering, making this a film more about what they end up finding above anything else. Cordero never once tries to establish relationships between the characters or the viewers, leaving you not caring about anything aside from the final reveal.
All found-footage films like this rely on their final moments. The film builds and builds towards the final moments, where it reveals the discovery briefly. 90% of films like this rely on that moment and the director or writer never bothers filling up the rest of the film with any other interesting content and Europa Report is no different.
Absolutely nothing about the film’s opening or middle act is interesting. The final act doesn’t really fair that better either, but the final glimpse does reveal something that could have drastically changed the earlier moments of the film.
Cordero’s biggest problem with the film was withholding this reveal until the very end. If he would have perhaps teased it in a similar fashion as Cloverfield then perhaps Europa Report wouldn’t have been a completely wasted effort, but he doesn’t. He constantly teases, but never follows up with enough material to make it count.
The closing minutes of the film reveal this tease, but after that point you’ve already clocked out of the film and are on your way towards the exit doors.
Europa Report could have been a much better film if Cordero ditched the POV presentation and perhaps acquired a bigger budget to further expand on some of the film’s bigger ideas. As a found-footage film Europa Report is just another walk-through space exploration film that pits a random crew of nobodies up against the possible idea of discovering life on another planet/moon.
The film moves along in a beat-by-beat fashion that has been played out many times before. It moves quicker than something like Apollo 18, but it still suffers equally for being such a bore that is constantly afraid to attempt to do something new or exciting for such a tired sub-genre.
Europa Report – 6.5/10