Earth To Echo (2014)
Tuck, Munch and Alex are a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals. What they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small alien who has become stranded on Earth. In need of their help, the four friends come together to protect the alien and help him find his way home. This journey, full of wonder and adventure, is their story, and their secret.
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Earth To Echo Theatrical Review
What happens when you cross an alien with "The Blair witch project" film style and the latest social media? You get this generation's version of "ET: The Extraterrestrial" –"Earth to Echo". Earth to echo is set up as video blog ("fount footage") narrated by Tuck played by actor, Astro born Brian Bradley (Person of Interest). At the start of the film Tuck is distraught because he and his friends are all being forced to move out of their homes by the government under the guise the homes will be ripped down to build a new highway. Two days before everyone is supposed to move, cell phones all over the neighborhood start acting erratic and the government workers mysteriously start offering vouchers for free phones in exchange for the broken ones. Ever curious and distrustful, Tuck enlists his two best friends, Alex played by Teo Halm and Munch played by Reese Hartwig (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) , to help him figure out what is really going on.
The eve of their move, the boys lie to their parents about staying at each other's houses and instead set out to follow what looks like a map on their useless cell phones. The map leads them in to the Nevada Desert where they find what they think is a piece of junk metal. Interestingly, the government workers also show up looking for that junk metal making the boys even more curious about what is really going on. While the metal is in their possession, the boys' phones show another map leading them even further away from home to a barn. Once there, the metal starts vibrating and making noise, ultimately seeking out and finding another piece of metal which attaches itself to the first. It is then that the movie reveals this is no ordinary piece of metal but instead a small alien, whom they nickname "Echo", that has crashed on earth and broken apart. After befriending this alien, the boys spend much of the night searching for more "parts". With each new piece the alien becomes stronger and closer to returning "home".
However, after several hours, the government workers catch up with the boys and confiscate the alien, which they knew was there all along. During an interrogation of the boys the workers claim they shot the alien down because they feared it was on Earth to find its spaceship which was buried under the homes where the boys live. As morning ascends on the Nevada desert, the boys escape with Echo from the clutches of the "evil" government and return him to his spaceship which he unburies and finally returns home to outer space. However, by that time it is too late as most of the neighborhood has sold their homes and are moving away, including Tuck's two best friends, Alex and Munch.
This is Director Dave Green's first attempt at a full length feature film, yet you would never know that from his directing. The "found footage" format used for the film does not get tiring and for the older movie going audience his choices of shots, pacing will remind them of Super 8 (J.J. Abrams) or early family-friendly Spielberg film, and Back to The Future.Green admitted that he was worried how Earth to Echo would play to today's kids because this is a different generation filled with iPhones and social media. However one eight-year-old wrote a note to Green stating that Earth to Echo "is awesome because it tells kids they can accomplish anything they set their minds to."
Earth to Echo is a cute, PG rated film with some truly laugh out loud moments for the entire family. The actors do an admirable job for being so young. I personally enjoyed Reese Hartwig's performance as the slightly off, awkward, nerdy kid with few friends. I was less impressed with Astro and found his speech patterns to be more from a kid from poverty stricken NY as opposed to the Nevada Desert, and while the story does state he is originally from New York, I still didn't believe he was a Nevada middle schooler. Teo Halm rounds out the trio nicely as Alex, at times showing big man toughness and small child fragility in turn which one would expect from a foster kid who has been bounced from home to home as is his character's background. If your family wants a nice happy film versus all the "doomsday" films we have had this summer season, then Earth to Echo is what you are after.
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