Houston, we have a problem. Boy, do we.
This review is also up at Channel 24.
Sometime in the not too distant
future, an international crew of astronauts embark on a mission to
find life on one of Jupiter's moons.
What we thought
Films that deal with space travel and
the dangers thereof have been around for a long, long time and
include such seriously notable works as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent
Running, Alien, Moon and Gravity. Europa Report isn't so much a
forgettable footnote of this illustrious genre, as it is a
particularly ugly stain. The only good thing about it, in fact, is
that I seriously doubt that anyone will remember it even exited once
it has come and gone from our cinemas in what is guaranteed to be a
mercifully short amount of time.
What we have here is a science fiction
film that is ceaselessly dull, underdeveloped, poorly written and
blandly directed and fails entirely to engage on any level
whatsoever. It has none of the tension of Gravity or Alien, none of
the ambition of 2001 and none of the strong characterization of Moon.
It's an abject failure as both a smart science fiction film and as a
gripping space thriller as it has next to nothing to to say, while
steadfastly refusing to entertain or engage while doing so.
To say that it's boring doesn't come
close to capturing to just how endlessly, wrist-slittingly dull it
is. It clocks in at about eighty minutes, excluding credits, but it
feels like it goes on for days. That it's glacially paced is only the
beginning of its problems. Moon, for example, was similarly slow
paced but that was a great, engrossing piece of work so clearly it's
not just the pacing that sinks Europa Report.
No, what makes it such a pain in the
ass to sit through is that it offers the audience absolutely nothing
to hook onto while it lethargically passes us by. The characters
barely even manage to be one dimensional, while the story entirely
fails to evoke the kind of awe and wonder that should surely come
with discovering new life in our very own solar system. There are a
number of thriller set-pieces revolving around things going very
wrong, very often for our (theoretically) intrepid crew but between
the muddy camera work and characters that you could care less about,
there is simply no tension to speak of. Frankly, after about five
minutes, I was all but praying for a massive astroid to come along
and knock them the hell out of the sky so I could go home.
It doesn't matter that this is the
first film in years to make logical – if still incredibly annoying
– use of the old “found footage” gimmick and it isn't even
helped by the usually really impressive Sharlto Copley, who
unfortunately gives subpar performances in two subpar movies being
released this week. It sucks and it also certainly isn't helped by a
thoroughly lame final reveal that renders a potentially intriguing
ending dead on arrival.
Look for Europa Report to very shortly
join the similarly dire Apollo 18 at the bottom of bargain bins
everywhere – and good riddance to them both.