In some ways, Dave Green’s latest film, “Earth to Echo,” defies the shadow of film criticism because the film was not made for those old enough to read.
If you’re reading this to discover whether “Echo” is worth taking your kids to, the answer is yes, but expect to fidget in your seat like a 2-year old forced to watch a Fellini film. For the adult viewer, tedium is inescapable, because the perpetual filming rarely ceases and thereby omits few moments from a long night of escapades.
The found footage nature of “Echo” comes at the unsteady hand of young, aspiring filmmaker Tuck (Brian Bradley), who occupies spare moments by excessively documenting the minute details of the life he shares with best friends Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm).
Their quiet suburban lives face disruption at the hands of a construction project that will wipe out their neighborhood in order to erect a highway — thereby forcing all families in the neighborhood to move away.
A few days before the move, a technological disturbance disrupts communications in the neighborhood, rendering the trio’s phone screens frozen with an image that imaginative Munch declares to be a map.
Certain that the map leads to something extraordinary, they plan to spend their last night together following it to an unmarked area of the desert. From there, all manner of adventure ensues when they encounter a tiny, fragile alien that they name Echo.
Naturally, they aren’t the only ones interested in the stranded alien, and as they follow Echo’s instructions toward repairing his craft, they encounter adults eager to get their hands on the adorable creature.
What was sorely needed to save this film was more screen time with Echo and less jarring camera work, which distorted the action sequences and led to several confusing moments. Although the film recycles elements of “E.T.” and “Flight of the Navigator,” it suffers from the type of built-in obsolesce that comes from relying on too much slicked-up technology and not enough substance. Will this matter to your kids? Not a bit.
— Grace Gordon,
for The Oklahoman
‘Earth to Echo’
Starring: Teo Halm, Brian Bradley, Reese Hartwig, Jason Gray-Stanford. (Some action and peril, and mild language)