Today is July 2 and July 4th weekend is almost here. It is a time to celebrate our Nation's birthday (since we can't celebrate a World Cup advancement). This is also a time when movie studios release a plethora of movies at once. The family film for this July 4th weekend is "Earth to Echo" which is about a little alien trying to get home with the help of some children.
If the plot to "Earth to Echo" sounds very much like, "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial," you are correct, but that's not the only movie it is like. Throw in "The Goonies" and oddly, "The Blair With Project" and that is essentially what you this movie is, right down to some exact plot points.
This is not to suggest that families will not enjoy "Earth to Echo." If you are going to borrow elements from other movies, E.T. and Goonies are a good way to go. It is a kid's adventure movie after all and they will likely find it fascinating. Parents will not have the bad time either. There are laughs in the movie parents can share with their kids and Echo is a cute little guy.
The found footage aspect of the movie works against it. If you unfamiliar with this genre, it is a movie made like "The Blair With Project" where the characters in the movie are carrying around camcorders or other recording devices (like a cell phone) and the movie is edited together using only that footage. At no time is a "fourth wall" camera utilized, but a musical score does accompany the movie.
Telling a story in this manner is a risk and sometimes it works out and sometimes not. In "Earth to Echo's" case, it does not. No one really likes shaky camera movement and they like it even less when the camera is pointed straight down at the ground. The movie would have benefited if it was shot in the traditional sense and the film would not suffer at all from it. There were some shots in the movie where it is shown from a cell phone point of view, but that could have easily been worked in there.
The young cast that inhabit "Earth to Echo" are all unknown young actors and they do a fine job. No one stands out above the others, but they all show talent and hopefully will be cast in something else to show what more they can do. The director of the movie is Dave Green and this marks is feature film debut. According to IMDb, he was a production assistant on "Spider-Man 2." So he has come quite far in the last 10 years. His movie may be far from perfect, but he certainly deserves another shot in the director's chair in the future.
At an advance screening in Baca Raton of "Earth to Echo" a young boy said, "That was awesome," as he was leaving the theater. You can't get much higher praise then that from your target audience. On a three day weekend where families spend a lot of time together, seeing a movie about kids and aliens could be a good way to go. It is rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language.