Movie Review: Earth To Echo.
Directed By: Dave Green.
Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig and Ella Wahlestedt.
After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.
Alex, Tuck and Munch are three best friends that only have a few days left until they all have to move out of their neighborhood. They discover strange maps that appear on their phones that lead them out into the desert. On their last night they decide to follow the map and what they discover will change their lives forever.
In the desert they find a small robotic alien that they name 'Echo', they learn that Echo was shot down by humans and they decide to help him back to his ship so that he can return to his home.
Earth To Echo is a found footage movie and like 'Chronicle', this movie uses that tool creatively and it is not at all distracting. Tuck (Astro) is creating a short film of he and his friends on this adventure, he uses a handheld camera and also a GoPro for when he's on his bike and the transition from camera to camera was smooth. It is used as a tool to immerse you in the film and it definitely works here, as an audience member I felt part of the adventure that these kids were on.
Earth To Echo started off very well, the director gives us a sense of who these kids are and what their friendship is like and I honestly would have been fine with 90 minutes of these kids interacting with each other. Usually kids in movies can be quite irritating because they don't have the acting experience to deliver a good performance but these three kids really surprised me, their interaction with each other felt very real and I could believe that these kids had grown up with each other. The relationship between the three leads was incredibly realistic and is by far the biggest strength of the film.
When the three kids find 'Echo' and begin this journey, the movie doesn't feel as original as it did in the first act and it really just becomes a copy of E.T and Super 8. "They find an alien who seems scary at first but when they learn of its innocence and vulnerability they decide to help it return home". Does that sound familiar to you?
It has so many things that we've already seen in movies done better. Bicycle chases, child romance, government conspiracy etc. Even the poster is almost identical to the poster of E.T.
Unlike E.T, the relationship between the humans and the alien is not very strong. I really did like the character of Echo, he was really cute and kids are going to love him but I never got a sense of a relationship between Echo and the kids and the film expects us to invest in that relationship because in the last scene, Alex (Teo Halm) gets really emotional when he says goodbye to Echo. (I don't consider that a spoiler because....E.T already did it).
It was very obvious that the film makers wanted to pay homage to films like E.T, Stand By Me and Super 8 but I think they went overboard with their inspiration from those films because it does become so similar.
I thought Reese Hartwig who played Munch was really good in the film and I was really invested in his character even when he was separated from his friends and I can definitely see a good career for this young actor.
This film was made on a very low budget, hence the found footage style. It did actually surprise me with its ambitious visual effects that are impressive for a film on this budget. There are visuals in here that actually contain a lot of moving parts and while their not the best visual effects I've seen this year, they were surprising.
The actors all did a really good job and Dave Green did a really good job directing their performances. But when the plot starts to kick in, the film loses its originality and becomes something that we've already seen done better years ago.
I loved the first act, it showed a lot of promise for the rest of the film but it unfortunately didn't pan out so well because it wasn't original at all. I did enjoy the entire film though, it was a decent length, it had laughs and entertaining scenes throughout and the relationship of the three main actors was very good.
There was a lot of children in the audience I saw this with and I could tell they were really enjoying the film and I could hear them afterwards talking about it and I definitely recommend this film to anyone wondering what movie to take their children to because the kids with love it and adults might enjoy it as well even though they've most likely seen this story before.
E.T or Super 8 may be a little mature for some younger viewers so I could definitely see this film becoming a new generations E.T. I'm going to give Earth To Echo a B-!
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