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Film / Europa Report

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Europa Report is a 2013 independent Science Fiction film. It depicts the voyage of a Multinational Team of astronauts on a mission to find life on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

The film is presented in a Found Footage style, with almost everything the audience sees recorded by the cameras on the spacecraft and on the astronauts' suits. From the beginning, it is apparent that the mission did not go according to plan, and the audience is soon told that the rest of what they are about to see is compiled of ‘recently declassified’ footage.

This film provides examples of:

  • Always Close: In the name of Rule of Drama, each time a spacewalk is attempted, the walker(s) cut it right down to the limit, never considering the fact that they are in no hurry or immediate danger and that they can go back in, recharge and come back out if they have to.
  • Anachronic Order: The film begins 16 months into the mission, when contact with Europa One is lost. It then goes a bit back and forth.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Despite being hard sci-fi, a few examples.
    • A hydrazine spill in vacuum would most likely crystallize or evaporate away harmlessly rather than stick to a surface.
    • The rotating crew module is far too small and spinning too slowly to create the gravity depicted inside. The astronauts also move normally while landed on Europa, which has lower gravity than Earth’s Moon.
    • After landing on Europa, the crew is told the ambient temperature is holding at Absolute Zero, far colder than the mean temperature of Europa. Odd, but no big deal. Until we are told the ice will continue to shift more and more violently as the temperature drops. (Absolute Zero is, literally, as cold as it gets.)
    • You'd be forgiven for thinking they were actually exploring an Earth-sized world with a vast lake of freshwater rather than a small ice-moon with a (likely) sea of very dense saltwater. With such low gravity and an environment of saltwater, having the ice breaking under Katya and Daniel would have not been an immediately life threatening event - they would have likely floated for a while. In addition, real astronauts train for zero-gravity environments underwater all the time - water is no big deal to a proper space suit.
    • The crew communicates with Mission Control without they time delay you'd really have at interplanetary distances.
    • After the first accident, the crew has to decide about whether or not they will “go on”. But the decision is pointless, as they already have the velocity to get to Jupiter, and they would have slingshot around Jupiter to get home.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite everything they try, the entire crew gets killed off. But they still managed to complete their primary mission: Discover the existence of life on Europa, and they did, meaning their deaths weren't for nothing.
  • Dead Star Walking: Sharlto Copley is the top-billed star of the film, yet has limited screen time and is the first character to be killed off. It isn’t even a spoiler, since thanks to the Anachronic Order this is revealed five minutes into the film.
  • Dwindling Party: Starts pretty early on, then in full swing for the last act.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Nobody on the Europa crew survives.
  • Everything Sensor: Katya uses one when she ventures out to gather the samples. From one scan she gets a detailed 3D model of the microbial life.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Jim Corrigan, in spades.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: In a way. While the entire crew ends up dead, Rosa manages to transmit their video archive back to Earth, achieving their primary mission objective: The last thing on the video is a clear picture of the bioluminescent Europan octopoid.
  • Final Girl: Subverted. While some clips seem to be of Rosa being interviewed after the mission, this is in fact footage she herself recorded a short time before her death.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Zig-zagged. In the first few minutes we know about the death of James Corrigan and find out that something went wrong with the mission. However, the movie very cleverly fools you with what appears to be interviews with Rosa after the mission, implying that she survived only to later reveal these were actually recordings she made herself during the mission, and that she died along with the rest of the crew.
  • For Science!: This is the crew's motivation to go on with the mission after things start to go wrong.
    "What does a life matter compared to the breadth of knowledge to be learned?"
  • Found Footage: One of the more justified and non-annoying examples in recent memory.
  • Hanlon's Razor: The entire Europa expedition is slain, though for once it is not that aliens that kill them, at least directly: long-distance space travel in general and the Europan environment specifically is so hostile that they kill almost all the crew. The curious (as opposed to hostile) aliens cracking the ice under people does the rest.
  • Heroic BSoD: Andrei gets one after James’ death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When the team tries to launch off of Europa, William unstraps himself from his seat to try blowing the water shielding to soften the landing, resulting in his breaking his neck during the crash.
    • And one of the weirder examples occurs at the end, when the remaining two crewmembers, knowing full well that they can't get off Europa, opt to dismantle the life support systems in order to fix the communication array, thereby preventing a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The mission was funded as a reality tv show, which explains why so many cameras were installed onboard.
  • My Greatest Failure: Andrei feels this way about losing James on their EVA, as he'd been the one that wanted to force the panel open, and had tried to get James out of his suit to avoid the hydrazine problem just before losing enough air to be knocked out. Couple this with his status as the most seasoned astronaut on the crew, and it hits even harder.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: What happens when radiation affects the cameras.
  • Previews Pulse: The trailer has it.
  • The Radio Dies First: The radiation storm that knocks out the communication is the first of the crew's problems.
  • Raster Vision: Used not only for video footage but for the poster.
  • Scenery Porn: The view in space and on Europa itself.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Multiple examples:
    • Played straight with James' death, although a bit of a subversion in that he throws himself out of the airlock to save the rest of the crew.
    • Inverted/deconstructed with the ending, brilliantly. How often do you see the hero sacrificing themselves to let the alien into the ship after they just wiped out the entire crew? Compare to the ending of Alien.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Katya not returning to the ship... in deadly radiation... with an unknown organism below the ice.
  • True Companions: The crew, despite sometimes having arguments, are shown to be this, which is best encapsulated in the ending line.
    Dr. Unger: We saw the sacrifices they made for each other to keep the mission alive, to push the discovery further.