| 03.17.2018

Looking to the heavens — “Earth to Echo” is an excellent and entertaining family movie that exceeds expectations


Earth to Echo

Andrew Jenson | rawr reviews

“Earth to Echo” is an “E.T.” knock-off. There’s no getting around that. But, it’s so much more enjoyable than its predecessor.

“Earth to Echo” follows three good friends – Tuck, Munch and Alex – through the lens of Tuck. Tuck is quite the videographer and he films everything that he and his friends go through. Unfortunately for these boys, they’re going to be separated. A freeway is going to replace the neighborhood they live in and their families are forced to move. At the same time, the boys realize something strange is going on when their smart phones start going crazy and configuring strange maps. They decide to spend their last night together figuring out where the maps take them and what it all means. When the maps lead them to a stranded alien and the key to its crashed ship, they embark on a mission to get him home.

Newcomer Dave Green directed this feature and he does a great job. “Earth to Echo” is a delightful movie that speaks to the wonder and terror of childhood.

The filming style is much like what we’ve seen in “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity,” only much cleaner and easier on the eyes. This can be annoying at times, but it keeps the audience close to the characters and the action.

And one wants to be close to these characters. They are relatable and likeable. On top of that, they act like real kids. So many times in film, kids aren’t portrayed in a believable way. It’s nice to see kids actually being kids in this movie. And the kids are smart in this flick. They’re people you’d like to be or hang out with. That’s so refreshing.

Especially noteworthy is the film’s attitude. It actually feels like they’re taking kids seriously and respecting them. The film doesn’t speak down to kids or adults . Rather, it has fun while staying away from being stupid. It’s such a pleasant movie.

One does have to suspend disbelief when it comes to the boys’ camerawork. Not only do they have multiple cameras – including a camcorder, GoPro and one set in a pair of glasses – with seemingly unlimited battery power, but the resulting footage looks way too good. Still, this is a minor problem. The story carries through strongly and allows the audience to overlook that detail.

The biggest problem is it invites comparison to “E.T.” One can’t help but think of the 1982 film while watching “Echo.” And it’s a shame. “Echo” is a more enjoyable film, especially since it evades typical Spielberg whimsy. That’s not to say “Echo” is without sentiment or charm, but it knows when to hold back.

Considering the plot similarities, it’s more than likely that “Echo” will always be under the shadow of “E.T.” “Echo” has just enough differences that make it unique in itself – but admittedly, it doesn’t have the timeless feel of Spielberg’s classic.

Despite these setbacks, the movie is worth a watch. Adults and children alike can appreciate the film. It’s an absolute joy to sit through.

Andrew Jenson can be reached at argonaut@uidaho.edu

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