Published on July 2nd, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Earth to Echo
Earth to Echo really excited me when I first heard about it. The premise reminded me of movies of my youth, such as Goonies, E.T.: Extra Terrestrial and Explorers. In fact, Echo actually seems like a mix of these three movies, which made me even more excited about it.
Earth to Echo sees three childhood friends Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley) and Munch (Reese Hartwig) as they deal with moving away from each other because their neighborhood is being torn down to make way for a new freeway. Shortly before the final move date, something weird starts happening to their phones, and it turns out that a map is being fed into them. On their last night together as a group, they decide to pursue the map, not knowing the great adventure they have waiting for them, or the dangers that lie ahead. Of course, without any spoilers that are not already in the commercials/trailers, they find an alien life-form in a small owl-like creature. The creature is hurt and trying to get off planet, and the kids decide to help.
Overall the main story-arch of Echo was great. While a little unbelievable in this day and age that an established neighborhood is going to be uprooted for a new freeway (at least to me), the story was solid and things are not exactly as they seem. All three boys, and a love interest Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) did an excellent job in their performances, and you forget that the actors are actually the age of the children they are portraying. The visual effects were awesome, and the score was spot-on. The film was very enjoyable and knocked it out of the park in these aspects.
Now, this movie unfortunately suffers from its cinematography. The movie is viewed through cameras that are “controlled” by the characters themselves. Think Chronicle. Tuck is the camera-fanatic of the group and we see the adventures of the friends through his GoPro camera, spy glasses and handheld camcorder, as well as through the cell phones of the various characters. There is nothing wrong with this method of filming, and in fact could have worked really well, especially as it does play into the plot with our little alien friend. However, this filming technique was not used appropriately. There was just way too much “shaky-cam”. In fact, every single person in my party became nauseated by the overuse of the film style. While two in my group were able to overcome the sick feeling, the rest of us could not shake it. There are several things that could have happened on our part to prevent this (i.e., sitting farther back in the theater), but many will not know this going in and it could be a bane to their movie-going experience.
It really is too bad that the camera-work had this much effect on the film. As I said, overall it was a very enjoyable movie. My suggestion is to sit toward the back of the theater, or even just wait until it comes out on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital. I think that being able to see it on a smaller screen, or sitting in the back of theater, will allow you to frame the film and not be so submersed into it. This will prevent the nausea that my party, as well as other moviegoers I heard expressing the same concern. I will definitely be picking it up when it is released for purchase, despite my experience in the theater.
3 out of 5 stars.