Thursday, 26 September 2013

EUROPA REPORT - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto After Dark 2013 Spotlight Sceenings - GREAT SCI-FI

Europa Report (2013) ****
Dir. Sebastián Cordero
Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Sharlto Copley, Christian Camargo, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler, Isiah Whitlock Jr.

Review By Greg Klymkiw

On October 4, 2013, a dull, predictable, badly written and clearly expensive space thriller that's already amassed as of today a ridiculous (but hardly surprising) 95% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes will open wide on several thousand screens in uselessly annoying 3-D and make no mistake, Gravity, its most exciting feature being Sandra Bullock floating around in her undies, will be a huge hit. Tonight at 7pm at the Scotiabank Theatre, the visionary Adam Lopez's Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013 pre-festival Spotlight Screenings presents a one-time only big-screen unveiling of a terrific science fiction space shocker called Europa Report. It's easily one of the best science fiction films I've seen in years and had me charged with excitement from beginning to end. I don't expect you to heed the following as all of you are suckers for first-rate studio-manufactured hype, but in all honesty, anyone seeing Europa Report - especially on a big screen - will have no reason to bother with Gravity.

Philip Gelatt has written a first-rate screenplay that charts a myriad of characters and perspectives as a private corporation launches a historic manned flight to Jupiter's Moon of Europa, a huge orb covered completely with ice and most probably having one of the likelier possibilities of life in our solar system due the presence of water - almost always a sign of life creation and sustenance.

An international crew of six astronauts are onboard for the mission and director Sebastián Cordero astonishingly covers every key detail of the trip via an insane number of POVs from the cameras set up by the corporation in any place that will conceivably capture the journey and discoveries in detail. I'm no scientist, but enough of a space buff to know that screenwriter Gelatt has done a phenomenal amount of research to provide elements that always feel real and from what I can tell, only a handful of aberrant manipulations strictly for dramatic purposes.

The mechanical and practical details of the trip, the richness of characters and dialogue, a clutch of superb performances and visual effects that are nothing less than dazzling, all contribute to a corker of a space thriller with a genuine, as opposed to by-rote layer of humanity (the latter afflicting Gravity to annoying degrees) that is as moving as the movie is thrilling and suspenseful.

The Moon of Europa has long held a great degree of fascination for both scientists and astronomy nuts and the filmmakers successfully exploit this so that they preach to both the converted and those who aren't. The magnificent score and soundscape jangle the nerves when necessary, and make us soar when we need it. As on any such mission, we see such dedication and sacrifice, but the movie also doesn't shy away from fear, disbelief and desperation.

As such, it's a phenomenally entertaining and almost literal journey into deep space. By the time we get to the Moon of Europa, we're as poised as the crew to make as many discoveries as possible. The moon is, of course, fraught with danger and the filmmakers work overtime to keep us on the edge of our seats.

And of course, what ultimately drives the film is the potential of the crew to discover life - it might be simple or complex, benevolent or dangerous or completely non-existent, but this is what ultimately infuses a great level of awe and spirituality in this journey.

It's ridiculous to think that Magnet Releasing by-passed a theatrical release, offering instead (this past August), a whack of VOD opportunities. If you're in Toronto tonight, you're in for a real treat - a movie that demands a big screen, but does so without the usual dumbing down of the material and reducing it to little more than an amusement ride - kind of like Gravity, or virtually every other contemporary film set in space. Europa Report is definitely a ride, but it's sure not dumb.

For information on the Toronto After Dark screening, visit the website HERE.