It’s a pretty uneventful weekend after a busy one of last. Hubby and I opted for home cinema as I’ve already seen two of this weekend’s new releases: The Monuments Men and The LEGO movie. Click on the title to read my review of it, I actually agree with the critics on both films. It’s no wonder the latter is a big hit at the box office with nearly $70 mil, there’s really no competition for a family movie and it’s an awesome one for all ages!
I did see two very good older films I’ve missed out on: Europa Report and Pirate Radio [review coming next week]. I saw the latter partly as my attempt to see as many films of Philip Seymour Hoffman that I’ve missed out on. It can’t be more different in terms of tone and subject matter but I quite like both in varying degrees. Here’s my review of …
An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon called Europa.
This is not an action-packed kind of sci-fi movie like Elysium, so if you’re expecting that you’re probably not going to like this movie. It does start pretty slow but I quite like the realism style of filmmaking here, making it look more like a documentary that makes it look as if we’re watching real NASA footage. CEO of Europa Ventures Dr. Unger (Embeth Davitz) serves as a *talking head* of sort, explaining what happened with what’s happened in the Europa mission. The narrative switches back and forth between current time and flashback of the team of six astronauts who’re privately funded to explore one of Jupiter’s moons to see if there’s any potential sources of life.
The date on the screen shows that the crew has been on that ship for a long time, as weeks turns to months and even year. It’s fascinating to see the mood shift from the earlier time of the mission to the increasingly-dire time of their last days. There are barely any movie stars on this film, in fact there’s practically no leading role here as the ensemble cast seem to get equal screen time. I’ve loved Sharlto Copley from District-9, and there’s also Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist from the original Dragon Tattoo trilogy, plus Davitz who impressed me in Junebug and Mansfield Park. Those three are the only names I recognized in the film, but they as well as the entire International cast (Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca, Christian Camargo, and Karolina Wydra), did a nice job here.
There’s genuine tension throughout, which continues building as the ship lands somewhere and the crew start collecting Europa samples. One by one, each crew member is dealt a nasty blow, and the whole sequence felt all too real. In fact, one of the scenario of two space engineers Copley and Nyqvist, doing repair to the ship look so similar to an early scene in Gravity. This is definitely one of the most suspenseful and heart-wrenching scenes to watch, beautifully-acted by both actors. Props to director Sebastián Cordero for his effort considering this is only his fifth feature film.
Now, I’d have given this film a higher score if it weren’t for the rather clichéd ending that kind of make me roll my eyes. I was expecting something a bit more um, intelligent and realistic as that’s what the build-up seems to suggest. [SPOILER ALERT – highlight text if you want to read] I think if they’d go with some kind of natural gas/chemical substance that’s native to Europa but toxic to mankind and would also disrupt the ship’s electrical system, it’d have given the story a bit more weight. The whole ALIEN killing machine has been done to death and it makes the finale less impactful somehow.
My hubby said that as if the filmmakers were running out of ideas to end the film and just threw something together at the last minute. It’s a bummer as I think a bit more originality would’ve made this an excellent slow-burn sci-fi thriller. Still, it’s got enough going for it for me to recommend it if you’re a fan of the genre. I appreciate the performances and that it’s made in the true spirit of the sci-fi genre (see Conor’s article on this topic). The production values and effects are pretty good as well for its low budget of $10 mil.
What did YOU see this weekend? Any thoughts on Europa Report?
45 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup & Europa Report review”
I rather enjoy Europa Report, quite a bit. Like you said, love the realism and intelligence. Additionally, I didn’t have a problem with the ending, but that’s just my opinion. Awesome post, Ruth :).
Hi Joseph! Thanks for stopping by and opine. Seems like maybe I’m the only one who has issues w/ the ending. I didn’t hate it per se, just thought that the monster alien thing-y has been done too often in sci-fi, but I guess that’s just me 😛
Hey, Ruth. Glad you had a good weekend!
I agree with your analysis of Europa Report. It is quite good, but the ending leaves something to be desired.
Hi Josh, I hope you had a good one too!
It’s really too bad about the ending, it could’ve been another sci-fi great!
Good review, ruth. Curious about this one. This weekend I watched Inside Llewyn Davis, which I really liked!
Oh, curious to hear what you think of that one. I know I’m in the minority who aren’t in love w/ that film but I did like Isaac’s performance and the music!
Isaac and the music are superb. It has a few pacing issues but I really enjoyed it.
Yeah, spot on Ruth. I was slightly more generous in my rating with a 3.5 but the ending almost ruined the whole experience for me. Surely they could have came up with something better than that?!
Yeah, I was really expecting something other than a monster alien thing at the end. It almost ruined it for me as I don’t think it justified all that intelligent build-up.
I’ve had this flick bookmarked on my Netflix for a while now. Gotta sit down and check it out. I only skimmed over your review but I’ll definitely give it a closer read after I see it (hopefully this upcoming weekend).
Hi Keith, it’s still worth a look. It’s atmospheric and gives a more realistic look to what it could feel like being trapped in a space ship for a long time.
Europa didn’t do much for me really 😦
Ahah, not enough action for ya eh Tim? 😀
How dare you! I am not just some bloodthirsty explosive addicted…no wait that’s exactly what I am.
My main complaint is that it hasn’t been that long since I saw it and have pretty much forgotten it 😦
I’ve never heard of Europa Report, sounds interesting. Might give it a watch soon.
I went and picked up a new BD player at Best Buy and saw the remastered disc of RoboCop for $9 so I bought that too. Haven’t seen it in a long time and since I’m going to see the remake tonight, figured I’ll watch it again. Still love it, I don’t think the remake will ever top it but just hoping it will at least be entertaining.
If you like sci-fi movies, this is worth a look Ted. It’s a slo-burn thriller that’s quite effective, well until that ending.
I’m curious to hear what you think about the Robocop reboot! Yeah I hope it’s still somewhat entertaining for ya!
I didn’t mind the ending of Europa Report, as I didn’t expect it to be some type of mind-blowing reason for what was happening. That said, I can understand the disappointment. What I really liked about it was the down-to-earth approach to the sci-fi genre and the way that it allowed us to get a real sense of life aboard the vessel. It also was a found-footage movie without a shaky camera where it made sense to see the footage. Either way, I’m glad you saw it.
Hi Dan! Yeah, I like the down-to-earth approach and the performances were pretty good. I think having no movie stars actually made the film more believable, too. I guess I was expecting something different w/ the ending, but still it was a pretty good sci-fi.
I saw At Any Price on Saturday on TV and on Sunday, The Monuments Men (it was alright) and Labor Day (good though flawed).
So you actually like Monuments Men??
Yeah, it was enjoyable though I had issues with the script and felt it didn’t live up to whatever ambitions Clooney had for the film.
It was a bit of a shame about Europa Report. A solid movie spoilt somewhat by its ending. Nice read Ruth.
Glad you agree w/ me about the ending Mark, it’s really too bad to spoil such a great build-up.
Nice concise review!
Am I the only only one who think it’s strange that a small film with a well spent budget produces better characters and executed special effect than a hugely ad campaigned and budgeted behemoths initially destined for IMAX?
Ahah, are you making a stab at Gravity?? I still think Gravity is a far superior film, both in terms of production quality, direction AND the finale.
$10 million budget does sound low for today’s standards. Just goes to show that when you’re creative, things can work-out. ,I enjoy sci-fi thrillers a lot, so this interests me. Plus, the poster looks cool too!
It is indeed very low for a Hollywood film Asrap, but I think the production quality is pretty darn good. I appreciate everything here apart from the ending.
I really still have to see this film, just cause I keep hearing about it!
It’s worth a look Zoe, curious to hear what you think about the ending!
Hmmmm, I am going to get on this 😀
Keep hearing alright things about Europa Report, I must check it out some time. I’m not sure it even got a cinema release over here to be honest, not a wide one at least. I watched The Lego Movie (which was just amazing!) and Robot and Frank which was really nice, thoroughly enjoyed that one.
It’s worth a rent Chris! Hey, glad we agree on the LEGO Movie, it’s really so much fun isn’t it? I also love Robot & Frank, a cute little movie.
I keep meaning to watch this but haven’t got round to it. Sounds good though. An international cast makes more sense for a space movie set in the near future
The international cast are very convincing, proof that you don’t need big name actors to make a decent film. I really wish the ending was much better, everything else is VERY good!
Must get around to watching Europa Report. What did I watch this weekend? I watched a cool documentary called ‘Chasing Sugar Man’. Should get to writing about it today. 🙂
Ooooh, I still haven’t got around to ‘Chasing Sugar Man’ even though my co-worker recommended it ages ago. Better get to that soon!
I may actually give LEGO movie a shot one day, but it’s probably gonna be way into the future – I still didn’t see Frozen. I saw The Wedding Planner this weekend – I had a tough week and then McConaughey wasn’t even shirtless in this one And I also saw Philomena, which was amazing.
Both Frozen and The LEGO Movie are two of the best animated features I’ve seen in ages! Oooh The Wedding Planner is one of my fave rom-coms, but yeah, why is Matthew not shirtless in it?? Looking forward to your review of Philomena.
Ooh, I watched Pirate Radio recently too. It’s not perfect, but I really enjoyed it. The cast was so much fun, and the soundtrack was wonderful. 4/5 for me. 🙂
Hi Josh! I’ve got my review ready for next week. Yeah, I really dug it too, and the ending is awesome as well!
I’m curious to see Europa Report. Last I checked it was still on Netflix, so I may have to do so soon.
An old friend came into town over the weekend, and we watched a couple of so-bad-they’re-good movies: Riki-Oh and Miami Connection. Very fun 1-2 punch right there. 😀
Yes it’s still on Netflix, go see it before they yank it off.
Ha..ha.. so-bad-they’re-good movies are actually quite fun to watch, good for you!
I saw the Lego movie this past weekend and it was a lot of fun.
As for Europa Report, I really liked it and I did not have an issue with the final shot of the film (but I know a lot of people, including you, have). It could be possible….
Glad u love the Lego Movie! As for Europa Report, I really think the ending could’ve been more compelling if they didn’t go with the alien monster route.
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