It’s clear that this year has seen an increase of science fiction films of all shapes, sizes, and varieties. This summer we’ve seen epics as big as Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Pacific Rim, while we’re still waiting for a run of more thoughtful science fiction, such as from Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Now that we’re steeped in the pop culture wave that is San Diego Comic-Con, a smaller, yet very effective, science fiction film is starting to branch out to a bigger audience. Director Sebastián Cordero’s Europa Report took the Hall H stage and revealed itself as this year’s best-kept secret with its minimal narrative, immaculate photography, and thought-provoking subject matter.
From Cinema Blend’s live-blog of Europa Report’s panel in Hall H, the film’s director spoke briefly on setting the story on the smallest Galilean moon of the juggernaut Jupiter, and how he found the perfect balance in striking the film’s tone. Cinema Blend reports:
Sebastian talking about trying to find the right balance between thrilling and entertaining. He says he researched Europa and the whole project became 100x more fascinating. He met with Ben and the producers and he wanted to stick to as much realism as possible. That was there intention as well and it all came together. He talks about about how fascinating the discovery of Europa was and the potential for life in its oceans. He says it begs for a story to be told about a mission there and he was lucky enough to be the one to execute it.
Along with director Sebastián Cordero, attending the Europa Report panel for were producer Ben Browning, composer Bear McCreary, and actress Karolina Wydra, who were joined by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists Steve Vance and Kevin Hand. Astronomer Dr. Phil Plait moderated the panel.
The filmmakers behind Europa Report worked with real scientists and astronomers to make the science in the film as realistic and accurate as possible. Europa Report’s theatrical premiere on August 1 will be held at the giant dome at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater in New York City. The premiere location was chosen to highlight the real science the filmmakers used in Europa Report.
One of the reasons why Europa Report is so effective is Bear McCreary’s fantastic score. Although the score isn’t as prevalent as in most science fiction films, it helps establish a great sense of atmosphere. Cinema Blend’s Kelly West notes:
Bear says he’s played around in a science fiction playground before but he’s never seen anything like this. It’s a new experience for him because it’s so realistic. He says his job was to make sure there’s an emotional through-line in there but he also had to do that without destroying the faux-documentary tone. He didn’t want to make the score make the film feel “too much like a movie” but if he pulled back too much it lost the emotional impact. He wrote one of the prettiest melodies he’s ever written. Says it’s an old school cinema trick to do a melody that’s stuck in your head.
McCreary says even the editing style is a character in the film. He pretended like he was an employee of Europa Ventures and asked what was the story they wanted to tell. He says the they had a narrative of a story that didn’t necessarily go really well (the mission).
Europa Report is definitely worth watching! If you’re a science fiction fan, you should definitely seek out this smaller film. In the landscape of the summer big blockbuster, a smaller movie like Europa Report is almost refreshing to watch.
Europa Report begins after a robotic probe sends back data about the hidden ocean that could exist under Europa’s frozen surface. A corporation called Europa Ventures finances a privately funded space expedition that sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to explore Jupiter’s moon and see if there is any life in its vast, icy oceans.
While on its yearlong journey to the massive planet, technical failure leads to a loss in communication with Earth. The crew must now survive the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, while also collecting data and research on the Europa moon surface. But when they discover something in Europa’s oceans, the astronauts realize that it’s something more profound and terrifying than they originally believed.
Europa Report features actors Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, and Embeth Davidtz. Screenwriter Philip Gelatt penned the script.
Europa Report is now available via Video On Demand, and opens in theaters on August 2. Read more about the Europa Report Comic-Con panel over at Cinema Blend.