DM Haight

Adventure awaits us every time we get off the couch, leave the house, and walk out into the great unknown of this world. There are those who are willing to traverse much further than many of us can fathom, and then there are those willing to go where no one has gone before. No, this isn’t an introduction to Star Trek, but you’re not far off.

Sebastián Cordero’s Europa Report is the tale of adventure that reaches beyond the stars we gaze at night, to the surface of those blinking lights in the sky we marvel at. Taking a trip to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, a team assembled of the best and brightest the world has to offer, sets out to explore an extra-terrestrial body in search of a life, be their cells singular or plural. Cordero’s film not only matches the caliber of any science fiction narrative we’ve had the pleasure of watching, but he also concentrates on the essence of adventure–the hope of discovery.

The acting and story-telling, which is what I tend to focus on, is of little importance here. Europa, though well-scripted and well acted by young and veteran actors such as, Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley, Karolina Wydra, Embeth Davidtz, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Dan Fogler, and Neil Degrass Tyson, himself. But their story isn’t the contrived, clichéd, dogma of the science fiction genre. It’s a complete deviation from what we’ve come to expect from more mainstream scifi. Although it is set in space, it’s a found-footage drama about a crew who are slowly torn apart, not by cabin fever, unlike personalities, or disease, but by the will to discover.

For example, there are many of us, myself included, who hate spiders with unwarranted vengeance. but then there are the spider handlers who research the spider, studying the way it moves, feeds, reproduces, etc. Europa Report is about those kinds of personalities, the kind who seek a truth, regardless of the fear of that truth. It is a very rare instance when a film comes along, one with a monster lurking in the deep, ending with a desire to learn more about it, despite what it has done to the crew. Finally, a film has come along that captures the scientific mindset that removes the human aspect of knowledge acquirement. It leaves behind the tired love triangles, grudges, mental-cracking, and victimizing of intruding humans.

Humans are merely a foreign being in a new world. They have no power, they have no authority. They survive by the oxygen in their space suits. Cordero has molded a film that has intelligence and sympathy, avoiding the humanistic drivel that has plagued scifi since its beginnings. By leaving behind those tired tropes, we’re left with what we can consider a true depiction of adventurers. They are not avoiding explosions, curing unknown diseases from local plant life, nor are they shooting down the local “aliens”. Discovery is their goal–to find something worth learning, for the simple sake of learning it. To close the universe just a little bit more in order to understand why life exists, or better–how life exists.

Not many filmmakers understand this, and even fewer would be willing to make a film about this kind of adventure. But I have to be thankful for Europa Report, because without it, a genre I love would be less lush, and new cinematic lands would go undiscovered.


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