Europa Report

2013review_scifi

This year promised a number of great original science fiction movies from Hollywood, and then it turned out most of them weren’t even good let alone great — the sort that left us with way too many unanswered questions regarding their plot holes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy genre, we continued to see the studios churning out one YA adaptation after another in the hopes of it being the next Hunger Games (or still the next Harry Potter or Twilight or even Star Wars in the case of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and ironically having no clue how to find the *magic* in the appeal of these kinds of stories. And of course there’s the ever-growing subgenre of superhero movies, which really only disappointed this year because they arrived in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, not simply because most of the output was sequels (Iron Man 3; Thor: The Dark World; The Wolverine) that were merely okay rather than totally awesome. As I’ve noted in the past, I don’t consider Gravity to be sci-fi (even after learning that some tech in the film doesn’t exist yet), but I’ll let it be known that if I were to qualify the outer space thriller, I’d put it in the number 6 slot on account of its gripping visual storytelling and little else. As for another popular choice (one that made a few FSR staffer’s best of lists, as well as our democratically voted top 10), Pacific Rim might have made this […]

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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disc much ado about nothing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Much Ado About Nothing Leonato’s (Clark Gregg) home is visited by fellow dignitary Don Pedro and his two immediate officers, Benedick (Alexis Desinof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). The latter falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, while the former has a friction-filled and antagonistic past with the man’s niece Beatrice (Amy Acker). It’s not all foreplay and country matters, though, as Don Pedro’s manipulative brother, Don John (Sean Maher), is intent on disrupting political relations by destroying relationships. Let the romantic hijinx begin! William Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy comes to life yet again, and it’s the best screen incarnation yet. Joss Whedon can be hit or miss at times, but when he’s on the result can be pretty damn incredible. His first foray into the Bard’s realm falls into that category as Whedon retains the original dialogue while adding visual wit of his own. Add to that some perfectly nuanced performances and an attractive score, and you have a film that will leave you smiling for days. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, music video, commentaries]

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Europa Report

Intense, unnerving, claustrophobic. These are three adjectives that describe some of the best trips into space that man has taken in the realm of science fiction. Films that come to mind: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, perhaps even the less fictiony Apollo 13. Every time men and women venture into the depths of space, things get a little intimate and uncomfortable. And that’s before things start to go wrong. So to say that a movie like Europa Report — a found footage movie about humanity traveling to one of Jupiter’s moons — accomplishes this could also be construed as par for the course. It’s five people in a confined space, traveling into the unknown. Of course it’s going to get a little tense. Add some of the film’s more ambitious, haunting fictions and you’ve got yourself a movie that, once it settles into its story, will have you occasionally gripping the armrests of your seat.

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Europa Report

Many films have tackled the question of whether we’re alone in the universe, but instead of having looming space ships hover over earth or astronauts coming into contact with terrifying beings from other planets, Europa Report presents the much more likely concept of signs of life on one of Jupiter’s moons. The Europa Report was a mission that brought together an elite group of international scientists, engineers, and a pilot who wanted to go further than anyone had before to explore that moon and see if there were signs of life developing on (or under) the surface. When those in charge of the mission on the ground report that the exploratory crew went missing for nearly a year after all communication suddenly went dark, the mystery of what happened up there finds the spotlight. The narrative then switches perspective to the ship where those on board  decide to continue with the mission, even as those on the ground presume they’re dead. What they discover is a captivating mix of believable and beautiful elements, but when one of the crew members (Karolina Wydra) comments on the inspiring, undisturbed world, it quickly becomes clear that they should have left it that way.

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Europa Report

Wouldn’t it be so great if a group of smart, dedicated, ambitious astronauts blasted up into space in search of intelligent life and the pursuit of knowledge and something wonderful happened? Like they didn’t die at the hands of a bunch of screeching, flashing, horrifying aliens? Or they didn’t get abandoned up there, away from the only home they know? Or they didn’t leave behind a bunch of video depicting their last days alive? Wouldn’t that be just the tops? Well, probably not in terms of pure entertainment value, but it would certainly be a different take on the tired space exploration genre. However, based purely on the pull quotes in this first full-length trailer for Sebastian Cordero’s Europa Report, the space-exploration-gone-horribly-awry trope might still have some fresh moonrock to mine, and this feature just might do it. Starring Michael Nyqvist, Sharlto Copley, and Daniel Wu, the film centers on a private mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon (Europa) and apparently a whole bunch of bad stuff that goes down once the crew touches down and starts work. You know how it is. So what happens up there? Oh, we don’t know, but check out the first full trailer for Europa Report after the break to get a tiny idea of what might await us in space.

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Europa Report

What’s Europa Report? Great question. It’s one you’ll probably still be asking after seeing the first teaser trailer. And after reading a synopsis. The movie from director Sebastian Codero stars Sharlto Copley and tells the story of a crew of astronauts chosen from all over the world to journey to one of Jupiter’s 67 moons to search for sentient life. So it’s about as vague as any space thriller, but one thing’s for sure: the trailer is really, really beautiful.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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