Approaching the found-footage format from a faux-documentary standpoint, Europa Report sees a team of astronauts undertake a mission to the aforementioned moon of Jupiter aimed at discovering life.
Inevitably, as is so often the case with these kinds of films, things quickly fall apart in increasingly horrific fashion.
Combining the voyage of discovery aspect of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the intimate space-based drama of Moon, Europa Report wears its influences on its sleeve, although this comes at the expense of establishing itself on its own merits.
While the former stood out thanks to its unparalleled sense of wonder and the latter was galvanised by an extraordinary performance from its lead, Europa Report can’t seem to make up its mind what film it is, starting off as a talking-head documentary before descending into a game of last-man standing in space.
Its struggle to stand out isn’t helped much by the cast.
Of the leads, only Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium) possesses the requisite gravitas – or indeed, the acting chops – to help elevate proceedings above the humdrum, which makes it all the more baffling that he is the first crew member to be offed. In his absence, Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) makes a decent fist of being a layered character, but like Copley, he is sidelined in favour of more dour and less interesting individuals.
Despite its faults, there is plenty to enjoy. Snatched glimpses of the future horrific events in the footage cycle stand out as effective directorial flourishes, and with it being made clear from the beginning of the crew’s impending doom, every scene is full of tension.
The build-up to the finale is notably impressive in this regard, with the endings of the likes of Armageddon and Deep Impact being recalled, although obviously on a far more localised scale.
By being gripping, if not always entirely interesting, it could be argued that the filmmakers have missed one mark and hit another entirely. Still, at least in the process it has given itself something to remember in the short term, even if Europa Report won’t forever live in the memory.