I was recently afforded the opportunity to see The Europa Report in advance of its theatrical release on August 9th. The movie tells the story of a manned space expedition to Jupiter’s ice covered moon Europa, and the exploration of the ocean beneath its ice in the search for life beyond Earth.
The Europa Report is largely presented in a ‘found footage’ documentary format, very similar to that of the 2009 movie District 9, which also happened to star Sharlto Copley. Copley plays a key role in setting up the believability of human drama in The Europa Report, and is joined by a solid cast who do not disappoint.
As the movie unfolds, you become appreciative of the thought and planning that went into the cinematography of the film. Unlike most science fiction, this movie makes a conscious effort to represent the science aspect of space travel in the telling of this story. The producers of this movie worked closely with NASA/JPL and succeeded in creating an entertaining and believable experience, especially so for a space enthusiast.
The attention to scientific detail can be seen throughout the movie, often in very subtle ways. For instance when the ship carrying the crew to Europa is on route to Jupiter and passes Mars, it is clear from the viewpoint of the crew that their ship is following the laws of orbital mechanics, i.e. heading for where the destination planet will be, rather than the current location of the target world, since all the planets as well as the ship are in motion. This subtle but noticeable attention to detail is manifested throughout the film, creating a sense of reality and drawing you into the plot, while establishing a sense of excitement and concern for the characters heading toward Europa.
The Europa Report will be released on August 9th in select theaters, the closest of which to the North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club (NSAAC) being the Kendall Square Cinema 9. I highly suggest that you see this movie in the theater, both for your own enjoyment and to show your support for scientifically accurate productions. The more successful this movie is theatrically the stronger the business case for the production of new hard-science films will be in the future.