"Earth to Echo"
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Running Time: 91 minutes
How easy it would be to dismiss Earth to Echo as just a found-footage remake of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. After all, director Dave Green and screenwriter Henry Gayden don’t so much borrow but appropriate the plot of Steven Spielberg’s heartfelt story about the relationship between a boy and an alien visitor. But Green and Gayden do something unexpected with Earth to Echo: they offer a simple but profoundly intimate tale of an unbreakable friendship that’s enhanced by the decision to go the found-footage route. It doesn’t matter that the three preteens in Earth to Echo set out to find the source of a signal that messes up their cell phones—they could just have easily gone in search of One-Eyed Willie’s hidden treasure. Green and Gayden concoct this adventure of a lifetime as a means to explore the emotional and mental toll of potentially witnessing your best friends move out of the neighborhood. A Nevada development is weeks away from being destroyed to make way for a new highway. With their families about to move to new homes, Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and Munch (Reese Hartwig) decide to spend their last night together by biking to the desert to investigate the source of the mysterious signal. It leads them to an injured alien robot that looks like an owl. Naming the alien Echo, the kids swear to protect their new buddy from the government agents who are now after them for obviously nefarious reasons. There’s a strong bond to be found between Halm, Bradley, and Hartwig, who each come across as the nice kids you might know from your block than the pretty, perfect tween wonders who populate all those Disney and Nickelodeon sitcoms. Which is ironic given that Earth to Echo was a Disney production that the Mouse House sold after its completion to Relativity Media. Preteens will certainly identify with Alex, Tuck and Munch, and will understand and appreciate the fears they harbor about moving forward in life without their best friends. Ella Wahlestedt’s Emma joins the trio’s mission midway through Earth to Echo. One of the boys has eyes for Emma, and Green and Gayden have fun exploring the inevitable change in the group’s dynamics. Green and Gayden don’t forget the pressure the kids are under to save Echo, and they create a true sense of urgency through the found footage that is mostly shot on cell phones and handheld cameras. Echo doesn’t possess as colorful a personality as E.T., but it’s cute and adorable to care about. The special effects are Transformers impressive, but they never threaten to overwhelm the film. From start to finish, Earth to Echo wants to jog our memories about the unforgettable experiences we have experienced with our best friends. They may not involve alien robots, but that doesn’t make them any less special.
Aired: July 3, 2014
Web site: http://callhimecho.com/