Most of the much-hyped science fiction movies of the spring and summer were met with mixed reviews and box office success. Oblivion pulled in $280 million worldwide, but didn’t win over critics terribly well (53% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). Star Trek Into Darkness did better, earning nearly half a billion worldwide and receiving largely positive reviews (87% fresh), but earned the ire of many Trek fans not happy with Abrams’ handling of their favorite fictional universe. Even Pacific Rim, which we loved, only did so-so here in the States, earning much of its $407 million worldwide box office from international markets such as China. But if you asked me to name the best science fiction movie of the year so far, none of those would be in the top slot. Instead, I’ll evangelizing about Europa Report, the rare hard sci-fi flick that beautifully evokes the danger and wonder of outer space, wrapped up in probably the most satisfying finales I’ve seen in ages. If you haven’t seen it yet, mark your calendar: it hits Blu-Ray and DVD on October 8.
Directed by Sebastián Cordero and written by Philip Gelatt, Europa Report follows a privately funded manned mission to Jupiter’s moon of Europa. The goal is to investigate the possibility of life hiding in the waters beneath its frozen surface. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes the mission before it reaches its destination, leaving the crew out of contact with Earth and learning that Europa may have more surprises for them than anyone could have guessed. It’s easily one of the best science fiction movies of the relatively new century.
Europa Report is one of those movies where I’d love to dive headfirst into the project’s behind-the-scenes history, but unfortunately, the Blu-ray/DVD release from Magnolia Pictures is pretty bare bones. It’s the sort of movie just crying out for a commentary track, but no dice. According to Magnolia, the disc will include deleted scenes — which were usually deleted for a reason — and some sort of featurette about the film’s visual effects. But don’t worry: you’ll also get the theatrical trailer! Thank god for that, because I can’t think of any other way to see it.
At any rate, Europa Report is absolutely worth a purchase, or at least a rental. It’s one of those flicks I know I’m going to rewatch countless times in the years to come (especially when double-featured with 2010: The Year We Make Contact).
Also hitting shelves next month is the first season of Syfy’s Defiance, which releases on October 15. Since Defiance was developed by Farscape‘s Rockne S. O’Bannon (along with Caprica’s Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor), I had high hopes for the show. Sadly, it never really lived up to those expectations. That isn’t to say it’s a bad show at all — I quite enjoyed it for the most part — but next to the unfairly high bar of Farscape, one of the best science fiction programs of all time, it couldn’t help but suffer from comparison. Still, the show did well enough to earn a second season from Syfy, so here’s hoping it hits its full stride when it returns next year.
- Defiance: A Transmedia Revolution
- Behind the Scenes with Jesse Rath
- Making Defiance
- Deleted Scenes Gag Reel
Defiance is set years after a war raged between humans and several alien species bent on setting up shop on Earth. With the planet left radically changed both geologically and biologically, mankind now lives side-by-side with the aliens, just trying to get by and get along. The show is set in the titular town, a new community built around the ruins of St. Louis.