We all remember the final message sent by HAL at the end of 2010: ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE. Of course if you read the next book in the series (sorry, there was no movie made), you'd know that we humans just couldn't stay away and had to get hip deep in the soup. Although Europa Report is not part of Arthur C. Clarke's literary universe, it does partially channel his essence.
Since Europa has a liquid ocean similar to that of Earth, it is the most likely place in the solar system where multicellular life probably exists. With that fact in mind, this moon of Jupiter should be high on the bucket list for any explorer of the final frontier. This movie explores that possibility in the form of a pseudo-documentary where most of the footage is provided by the multitude of interior cameras located within the ship, along with some one-on-one interviews or private communications sent back by the crew. This presentation style works for the film, even though the blackouts and/or flickering of the shot when trouble arises can get to be a bit tedious once you are 1/2 way through the movie. If you have seen Cloverfield (2008) or Monster (2008), you'll have an idea of what to expect once things start going south for our adventurers.
And go south it does; fast, hard and unbelievably bad. This has to be the most cursed ship since the Titanic, because everything that can go wrong does and unlike the NASA of Armageddon (1998), these people do not double up on anything and are constantly playing life fast, loose and have no respect for even the simplest of safety protocols: EVA suits with no option of thrusters in case one might get separated from the ship while doing a space walk, never having a person in Ready-Go mode in case one of the astronauts gets into trouble, maintaining a tether to a secure point on the ship because you don't have thruster packs, sending out solo expeditions without a buddy back-up. Seriously, some of these protocols are so basic that people on Earth follow them religiously when SCUBA diving, rock climbing or just going out for a hike in the woods and it is unbelievable that they would not be followed constantly while navigating strange, new worlds or traveling through the depths of space. One might think that this would be because of a lack of space knowledge on the part of the writers, but there is screen after screen of acknowledgements and thanks for assistance from NASA advisors in the ending credits, so I'm not really sure why these issues exist, other than they were necessary to drive the plot and make you feel sympathetic to the cast. Personally, I just spent half my time shouting WTF's at the screen during the climax of every catastrophe.
That being said, I liked the rest of what I saw. The cast was pretty mediocre and all of the characters could have easily been interchanged with other actors without detracting from the film. However, the performances were solid even though the personalities were forgettable. The Science was valid and believable without the writers needing to stretch the laws of physics or relativity to make things work and the premise was outstanding.
All in all, Europa Report does everything well enough to not be bad, but not well enough to be good, especially when matching up against similar movies like Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2015) or Prometheus (2012). As long as you go in not expecting this to be a version of 2061: Odyssey Three, you should be fine.