The Academy Awards were last night. But more importantly, I handed out the Second Annual Empty Balcony Awards for Movies I Saw From Last Year. Those awards are self-explanatory, but a quick rundown is in order. I did not see all the films that were nominated for Oscars. In fact, I only saw a handful, so there's no way I could offer an honest opinion on the winners and losers. For example, the top categories are best picture, director, the acting categories, and the two screenplay categories. Of all the winners, the only film from last year that I saw was Gravity, for which Alfonso Cuarón won best director. So, I made my own awards. Cuarón didn't win best director, but he was nominated, so that's an honor, I guess.
When the Oscars aired last year, I was surprised to find that I had (at the time) not seen a single film that was nominated in any of the top categories. Because of that, I felt I couldn't offer an opinion on how the awards were dished out, nor participate in Oscar night fun. But, I had seen quite a number of movies from the previous year, and I wanted to weigh in on some level. And lo, the Empty Balcony Awards were born.
Europa Report is a film that exists on the verge of being good. There is certainly a good premise behind the story, but the film falls just short of telling that story effectively.
Europa Report is hard science fiction. By that, I mean the science in it is more science than it is fiction, even though this film does depict space as being able to transmit sound. The film tells the tale (in found footage...oy vey) of the Europa One space mission, a privately funded venture to send a manned crew to the Jovian moon of Europa to find out if there is any life underneath its icy surface. What makes this a hard science fiction story is that, other than Mars, Europa is the best candidate for discovering life outside of our own planet.
In public spaces in the United States, there is no expectation of privacy (with some caveats, of course). Conversations we have, things we do, while out in the wide-open spaces under the sky are free to be observed and recorded by anyone watching. That's a little creepy, but something we have grown accustomed to over the years, as security cameras have become ubiquitous.
If you can follow the plot of The Yellow Sea, the Korean film from 2010 written and directed by Na Hong-Jin, then you must be Korean, or at least speak the language fluently. Those are the only reasons I can think of why so many western viewers online, including myself, found this flick's plot to be confusing, at best, and impenetrable, at worst. The good news is, that doesn't matter. Normally, when a movie has a plot that I can't follow, that is a bad thing. Not so with The Yellow Sea. About halfway through, I gave up on trying to keep track of all the twists and turns, and just sat back and enjoyed one of the best action films that has hit cinemas in this decade.