Water, Water Everywhere

Europa

Europa

The faux documentary Europa Report, already viewable as a download and on demand, gets its theatrical release August 2.

The movie’s big presentation in Comic-Con’s Hall H was reported by The Space Review (“Talk of an icy moon at Vegas for Nerds”). Europa Report is receiving positive word-of-mouth from those impressed with its determination to tell a first contact adventure supported by genuine science. Toward that end, the Comic-Con panel boasted as moderator Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy and in addition to the film’s producer, director, composer, and an actor, featured two JPL scientists who served as advisers to the production.

Producer Ben Browning said that his motivation was actually to produce a movie about what first contact with alien life might actually be like. That led to Europa as the focal point. Because they lacked budget, they decided to film the movie as “found footage,” which meant all the work was on a soundstage using fixed cameras. They built an enclosed spacecraft set in Brooklyn with multiple cameras inside and Cordero directed from outside the set using audio commands for his actors.

The composer of the score  shared his challenges in creating music to match the premise —

Composer Bear McCreary … explained that scoring Europa Report was difficult, and that he had developed several different approaches to the music and had to abandon all of them while trying to figure out what kind of music should accompany what purports to be a documentary of a human space mission. He said that he achieved a conceptual breakthrough when he started to think of himself as the composer hired by the fictional corporation behind the space mission—and its ostensible documentary. How would that company want to score the documentary? The documentary would be their attempt to put a positive spin on a mission that had gone very badly.

Someone else inspired by thoughts of that fictional corporation has even created a Europa Ventures LLC website:

We’ve sent six astronauts from space programs throughout the world on a three year journey to Europa to explore its oceans and confirm these findings.

We’re proud to be at the forefront of the effort to prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life within our solar system, within our lifetimes.

Justin Chang’s review in Variety is largely favorable:

Indeed, there isn’t a whiff of satire to “Europa Report,” whose upbeat vision of global cooperation and sincere belief in the life-changing possibilities of space exploration at times skirt the boundaries of naivete. Still, unapologetically pro-science films are sufficiently rare as to make this one’s earnestness seem all the more refreshing.

Here’s the trailer.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

4 thoughts on “Water, Water Everywhere

  1. The movie teases at the edge of being decent but fails terribly in a number of ways: instead of being a scientifically base first contact movie, “found footage” and lack of vision turn it into a poor excuse for a space-horror film.

    Reliance on “real science” only serves to highlight the moment when it proved to be too difficult (or perhaps too info-dumpy boring) to continue to have is be real science based.

    The story’s need for conflict sees the film quickly dumping rationality in favor of stupidity and ridiculousness.

    Spoiler:

    The film loses any and all credibility it may have had (acting is sometimes pretty weak, sometimes pretty good) when we learn that a deep space mission sent specifically to Europa to find life has no built in bio-containment system. Before that, we learn that the 6 year mission only packed a single drill for getting through Europa’s ice.

    End spoiler.

    Verdict? STUPID found footage monsters in space film.

  2. Mike: I saw EUROPA REPORT and it is OK. I agree with Steve Davidson that the third act has a major case of the stupids BUT the sets are highly realistic and a lot of the first hour is pretty cool. And compared to APOLLO 18 this film is a masterwork. Martin

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