Sunday, July 13, 2014

Movie Review: "Earth to Echo" (2014)

Movie"Earth to Echo"
Director: Dave Green
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Image Source
Mulberry Woods, a neighborhood in Nevada, is about to be cleared out of all its residents in order to build a freeway through it. After cell phones in the area start showing strange images that look to be maps, three friends named Munch (Reese Hartwig), Alex (Teo Halm), and Tuck (Astro) grab cameras and follow the map images to the desert. Just when it looks like they have hit a dead end, they discover what they think is a piece of scrap metal that actually turns out to have an alien creature inside of it. They name this alien Echo and vow to help him find his spaceship so he can get home.

Our biggest gripe with this movie is the fact that it features "found footage" style camera work. These movies, in general, make us nervous because they are headache inducing (and this was no exception) and often come off as unrealistic, which is the exact opposite of what this style hopes to accomplish. Beyond the physical ramifications, making this particular movie a found footage film doesn't add anything to the story. Filmmakers could have just as easily shot it normally and it might have actually been a little bit better than it was and without numerous shots of feet and full frontal "Blair Witch Project" style crying face selfies. This type of shooting may have also attributed to the film's seemingly poor pacing. Even for a movie that is less than 90 minutes long, it seems like it takes forever to get anywhere. Beyond the camera work, the kids in this movie are not particularly the best actors on the planet and most of them are newcomers. There's not a lot of good dialogue to work with anyway, so it makes their acting seem that much more boring.

There were a couple of positive notes, though. The movie as a whole wa a cute idea, kind of a "The Goonies" meets "E.T." type of film. Echo himself is an adorable little robot alien, though he's way underutilized even though he is the movie's namesake. The only thing we ever learn about him, though, is that he is trying to get home and is lost on Earth and really not much else. This was definitely disappointing, but he made cute beeping noises, so it's all good. The message at the end is a good one for kids to hear, that no matter what, your friends will always be your friends. For a relatively low budget movie, it does have some decent special effects. I think the trade-off here was the notion of spending the money on CGI and not on well known child actors. This also might be why the decision was made to make this a found footage film, it kept the budget lower.

Wholly, this was just a filler movie that we hoped and prayed wouldn't be full of children on a field trip. We took a gamble by going to this movie at noon on a Wednesday (we opt to see kid-centered movies at night since our theater does special engagement kids movies on Wednesday and is often crawling with little tykes). It exceeded my expectations a little bit, but not enough that I'd want to watch it again. It's charming enough if you need or want to kill an hour and half inside an air conditioned theater to beat the heat.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 48%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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