"Earth to Echo" follows the journey of three adolescent kids whose lives together are abruptly coming to an end. In a Nevada community where freeway construction plans threaten to break apart the neighborhood, forcing families to move, Tuck (Astro), Alex (Teo Halm) and “Munch” (Reese Hartwig) attempt to create an everlasting night for the three of them. When their cellphones begin emitting strange signals and maps, they set out on the eve of Alex’s moving day to find the source of the disruptions. What follows is a night none of them will ever forget.
The film is wholly shot in first person, which adds and takes away from the actual quality of the flick. On one hand, it helps make the film more personable, feeling as if the viewer is taking part in this journey. On the negative, some of the shots and angles are shoddily done, causing a bit of a distraction throughout. Also slightly distracting was the extremely unbelievable actions that went on during the boys' night. About halfway through the film, it went from amusing and—in a science fiction world—realistic to completely unsettling. The hijinks the boys—and mid-movie newcomer Emma (Ella Wahlestedt)—get into just didn’t ring true to what, in real life, could happen. That distraction took away slightly from the overall plot.
The plot wasn’t in any part bad—in fact, it worked. Alex, Tuck, and “Munch” meshed well together as friends, and the inclusion of Echo the alien allegorized their friendship. Friendship is something that the film was largely focused on, and coming together and building those bonds and memories is what was taken away from it. Echo only heightened the meaning of what friendship is, and for that, the film was a win. If only the little robotic alien was featured slightly more, the film may have been more appealing.
"Earth to Echo" encapsulates the meaning of camaraderie in a heartfelt and adventurous way. It also incorporated some much needed humor to this family friendly film. The acting was done well, and Hartwig’s portrayal of “Munch” was one of the highlights of the film. But the main highlight and reason why this film is worth the watch was the focus on friendship, and the strength those bonds create, proving that no matter the distance, those memories are lasting moments that only friends can share. The few negatives include the limited focus on Echo as well as the implausible circumstances in some instances, but the overall message and emotion of the film is what left a lasting, heartwarming impression.
"Earth to Echo" opened in U.S. theaters Wednesday, July 2nd 2014.
Final grade? B-