Most moviegoers are familiar with the found-footage formula by now (i.e., a series of slow-building twists all leading to some big reveal). What’s more? The majority of film buffs have seen this entertainment through and through. They’ve seen Blair Witch or Cloverfield, End of Watch or Paranormal Activity. In fact, at this point, I’d venture to say the majority of constant fans have grown completely numb to the sensation, specifically because they see that final wrap beat coming up a mile away. They brace themselves against the fervor. They revel in the guessing. And, eventually, they either find themselves desensitized or validated by what happens in the final frame.
And so it goes with Sebastian Cordero’s Europa Report, an outer-space suspense movie so married to found footage that it squanders plot integrity in the process. Here we find an entire screenplay based around the notion that some privatized corporation has recovered uploaded footage from one of its long-lost deep-space capsules (This one bound for one specific moon of Jupiter). The ensuing plotline plays like an apologetic document; a manufactured piece of propaganda from the corporation that funded this doomed mission. The point of this apology, one can only gather, is to deflect mass media criticism by portraying the ill-fated crew as a company of heroes.
Beneath all of the hoopla lies a fairly tight-knit cautionary tale about the depths mankind will plumb in the name of untold resources, the major sticking point being that said story is very often obscured due to the unnecessary found-footage angle … an angle which distracts from what might have been a quasi-relevant story with an infinitely more alarming takeaway.
(Europa Report is currently showing in limited release. It is also available via most OnDemand platforms.)