In 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released upon the world and it captured an entire generation of moviegoers. E.T. still stands strong in my top ten films of all time. Since then, a few films have been released in the hope of capturing the same appeal, and heart, of the originator. Super 8 is the most recent one, and it was so close, but hurt itself by being a bit too creepy to capture the perfect audience appeal. Now we get Earth to Echo, a found footage style, sci-fi, family adventure film.
A small town in Nevada is being torn down so that a new overpass can be built right through it. Three childhood friends are about to be separated forever, so they plan the ultimate final weekend together. Suddenly, one kid’s phone “barfs”, and after a while, they realize it’s a map leading them to the desert. So on their final day together, they lie to their parents and head out into the desert for an adventure they won’t soon forget.
What makes Earth to Echo such a solid watch is that the kids are genuinely fun. Their dialogue is fantastic, if not a little too smart for their age. Reese Hartwig, playing Munch, is completely charming in his role, and steals every scene he is in. The other kids do a great job as well, and no one gives a weak performance.
The film has a lot going for it. A fun, mysterious quest, likable characters, and then something happens around the final act in the form of a forced romance and a subplot that pretty much makes zero sense, except to give us an “enemy”, and to push the finale into place. It’s a shame that they didn’t retool the finale a little because it could have been perfect without the lame bad guy scenario.
The special effects are pretty basic, which I think they planned on due to the found footage style of the film. That said, the owl looks cute enough to squeeze to death, and outside of one scene near the end, which was shown in the trailers, not a whole lot happens. It adds to the charm, though, and isn’t as in your face as the Transformers films.
Earth To Echo is a rather solid family film. It has heart, plus very likable characters that make the ninety minutes fly by. I was able to attend an early screening of it, and the audience really seemed to enjoy it as well. I laughed a fair amount, and it made me think of the zaniness of Monster Squad, which is a childhood favorite of mine. I’m not sure it’s worth going to the theatre to see unless your kids really want to, but it’s definitely worth checking out when it hits DVD and Blu-ray.