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dir Sebastian Cordero
scr Philip Gelatt
prd Ben Browning
with Embeth Davidtz, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Sharlto Copley, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra, Dan Fogler, Isiah Whitlock Jr
release US 2.Aug.13
Unexpected discovery: Marinca, Wu and Camargo
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Even if the filmmaking is a bit gimmicky and manipulative, everything about this sci-fi adventure is bracingly realistic, so we easily put ourselves right into situations that are sometimes nerve-wrackingly tense. It's an notably original approach to both space and horror genres.
The Europa One mission was the first attempt to send people into deep space, watched avidly on Earth for six months before the signal from the ship went dead. Unable to contact home, the crew carries on the mission, while the commander(Davidtz) in Houston tries to piece together what happened next. The goal of the six-person crew is Jupiter's moon Europa, which has shown signs of possible life. When they arrive there, they begin their experiments in unexpected conditions. And they discover rather more than they bargained for.
Virtually all of the story is told through mission footage, as if we are watching a declassified collection of clips from the spacecraft's camera mixed with official comments from mission control. It looks exactly like scenes we've seen of Space Shuttle and Space Station missions, so everything feels eerily truthful, blending in offhanded humour and intriguing character details. Each scene is directed and edited with precision, while the clever production design allows the filmmakers to simulate weightlessness and some visual surprises without unnecessary effects.
The superb international cast of acclaimed actors add to the authenticity with effortless performances. Even with the simplistic character outlines, they add plenty of undercurrents. Marinca is the soulful pilot; Camargo is the brainy, charismatic scientist; Copley is the cheeky mechanic; Wu is the level-headed captain; Wydra is the thoughtful, curious expert; and Nyqvist has the most intriguing role as a troubled technician. As things take a dark turn, they draw us into the story by injecting gravitas.
On the other hand, the script withholds the key facts about what happened when the feed went dead. Director Cordero hints at a variety of things before ultimately flashing back to the missing sequence. It's a distracting flourish that serves no purpose; throwing us out of the timeline makes it difficult to remain involved in the overall narrative. As things get increasingly desperate in the final act, the film gets seriously riveting. But it might have had a stronger punch if we'd experienced the events in their proper order.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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