Friday, January 3, 2014

Movie Review - Europa Report

This is another movie I added to my Netflix list over the Christmas holidays but I didn't get around to watching it until after New Years.

This could be classed as a 'found footage' movie, like "The Blair Witch Project". A spaceship, with a crew of 4 men and 2 women, is dispatched from earth to Europa, a moon of Jupiter.  Recently gathered long range data has suggested something odd going on there. Something that may indicate the presence of life.

It's a damn long way to Europa, it's expected to take some 18 months to get there. At about 16 months out, the ship loses contact with earth. The team decides to proceed anyway.

The story is told as a series of clips. Some are of interviews with the earth bound team, especially the woman who was in charge of the mission. Most of the clips are from the spacecraft. Practically every inch of the ship was being videotaped. The movie takes us from the original launch and the excitement of passing the moon and becoming the first humans to travel so far from the earth to the ultimate loneliness of being cooped up in a metal box so far from home that a conversation with a loved one takes hours between sentences.

I thought the science in this was pretty good. Also the effects. We've all seen enough footage of space shuttle launches and the like to know what it looks like. They do a good job here with simulating the launch. We've also seen endless footage of astronauts on the space shuttle or the International Space Station. We know people are weightless in outer space. The ship here is equipped with a rotating ring, with long booms with living quarters on each end. The control areas are weightless, and they do a good job of showing the crew passing from one area to another, walking around in the habitat and floating in the other areas. The weightless scenes are short but believable. I don't know if they used the Vomit Comet or just wire work. The outward trip consists of scenes of ordinary life in space like communal meals (and complaining about the food), riding exercise machines, scientific observations and a space walk.

We get to know the crew, understand to some extant why they are doing what they are doing. The landing on Europa is handled very well. The compromise of the mission and how they go about trying to salvage something to justify the trip get to the 'Fear Sacrifice Contact" on the poster in a very effective way. The last act of the movie literally had me on the edge of my seat.

I don't want to give away too much because this is a movie I recommend you see.

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