I wanted to post about this years ago when I saw the film, but now’s as good a time as any. This small indie sci-fi thriller is probably the best science fiction film of the past decade. I’ll take it over Gravity or Interstellar (which I have had no desire whatsoever to sit through; the trailer was horrific enough). So, more people need to see this film, so more people get it: how to do science fiction without it becoming oppressively stupid.
The mission is realistic with meticulous detail. It also remains true to its premise from start to finish. It’s a mission report that is collected by the built-in cameras on the space ship and in the helmets. So there is no camera man. All the shots, as far as I can recall, are static, as from security cams. This gives a sense of detached observation, a helpless after-the-fact accounting of what happened, on this historical first mission.
Europa is a very likely place to send explorers, as the ocean beneath the ice could hold extraterrestrial life. It is a prize of unknown value, and certainly man made craft will be headed there in the future.
The astronauts are an ensemble, with no one character taking over the story. This is a divergence from most films that stick with one or two characters religiously. Here the people have functions, and as the mission requires their specialties they each become the focus of their own sequence. This is very difficult to pull off, but it works. It is a tense and increasingly perilous plot, as they encounter the hazards of long distance space travel, and they finally arrive on the frozen moon.
This is a must-see movie that should end up on my Radically Different Cinema series eventually.