Review: The Europa Report

The Europa Report

Ever since seeing Duncan Jones' Moon (2009) I've had high hopes for low-budget and independent sci-fi movies. It always puts a smile on my face to see them being made, since independent producers tend to take on issues that the big studios tend to ignore or shy away from. The Europa Report (which was filmed right here in NYC's Cine Magic Studios in Brooklyn) did not disappoint.

On one side, TER is a classic sci-fi suspense-thriller that in some ways reminds me of Ripley Scott's Alien. A corporation launches a mission into the cold unknown with the hopes of discovering the biggest game-changer in human history; alien life. Along the way the crew encounters difficulties, including mechanical failures, environmental hazards, and ultimately something which starts picking them off one by one through a series of seeming accidents. The hope and inspiration felt at the beginning of the film turns to horror and despair—it's been done before, but there are a few factors in play here that allows TER to claim somewhat unique status in the genre.

I do have to mention a few sour notes in an otherwise beautiful movie. Again, the story is a little played out and I wish they'd gone in a more unique direction as far as the actions sequences went. Also, the film makers chose the "found footage" framework, which on the one hand makes sense since there is a time delay between transmissions between Jupiter and Earth, but on the other hand they played it up so much that I found myself thinking, "come on, you can do better than Blair Witch in space," which, though it may be a little unfair of me to say, I still did have the thought. I don't think I would have found this to be a negative if the trope hadn't been done so much in the recent past (Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, etc.) since, on a technical level, it was done very well. The found footage clips are intermixed with news reports and interviews in a masterful way that makes the overall film as smooth as drinking a tall, cold glass of milk.

TER was made with a hyper-realistic way of storytelling. It is hard sci-fi, without a doubt, and the film goes out of its way to show you that absolutely everything in it is real, and based on technology we have today. This not only gives it a documentary feel, like something you'd watch in IMAX at the Museum of Natural History, but it also lends to it a sense of "this could happen in a few years" which puts an edge on the terror that hits you hours after you watch the movie. The events don't take place that far away from us, Jupiter is easily visible in the night sky as one of the brightest, steadiest lights to the unaided eye, and can easily be seen (along with some of its moons) with a simple telescope (its moons were discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610 with a telescope that only had about x9 magnification). It is easy to imagine this playing out within our lifetimes. Many of the visual sequences I thought might have been taken directly from actual NASA footage, the CG was just that good, which again lends to the "this is real" feel of the film.

The other major thing playing in TER's favor is its ending. I won't say what it is, of course, but there is a small twist on the classic scifi-horror tale at the end that completes the thematic loop of the film. You not only leave it impressed with the NASA-film quality visuals, but thinking deeply about the real possibility of what life on other planets might mean to us.

I highly recommend this movie to all comers, both sci-fi veterans and those looking to see what the hubbub is all about.

The Europa Report is currently available on iTunes for a $9.99 rental.

Also, definitely check out the official website (which is done in the style of being a real, corporate website for Europa Ventures LLC) here:


  1. This one sounds interesting. I'm not a horror fan (never watched Alien) but you've sucked me in.

  2. It is good to see reviews with more to say than Mr. Moviefone.
    I added your site to one of my resource pages. Please check the annotation and suggest changes ( If you feel the page has value, include a link on your site, and revisit for updates.
    Thank you.

    1. Many thanks for the link on your page and for the compliment. I'm adding you to my list of links as well. (I'd love to debate you sometime about the animal dissection issue in schools, btw. Maybe on one of our Facebook pages.) I'm a biologist by schooling and trade (the day job) and appreciate that you've included conservation and science education links on your page!


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