On the last night before their families are set to pack up and move away, best friends Tuck (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm) are keen to have one last adventure before the highway construction set to destroy their town separates them for good. After receiving some weird electrical signals on their mobile phones, the gang of young boys race to the middle of the nearby desert in their Las Vegas suburb to find the source of the electrical disturbance. But what they find there far exceeds any of their expectations, and sets in motion a night of adventure of the most epic proportions.
The trio find themselves face-to-face with a small, robotic alien from another planet, whose ship has crash landed on earth and split apart all over the suburb. In order to help the adorably friendly alien, whom they affectionately name Echo, the boys race all over town to retrieve the parts of the ship, so their new friend can make a safe return home. But they’re not the only ones who know about Echo, and government officials posing as highway construction workers are after the boys in their attempt to capture the alien and destroy it before it can destroy the earth.
This science-fiction film is targeted to later childhood and early tween viewers, and deals with themes of friendship, separation, and prejudice with a little more heart than most of your average children’s movies. Any child who has had some experience with moving home and leaving their friends will be able to relate to this film, which at its core is a moving look into the importance of childhood relationships and accepting one another, even if you’re made of metal and come from an entirely different planet.
While it follows the general plotline of any children’s adventure film, the way in which Earth to Echo is filmed with found footage and through the lens of social media is original and relatable to contemporary audiences. Under the guise that Tuck is recording the boys’ final days together, most of the movie is filmed with a hand-held camera affect, which can get a little fatiguing at times, but for the most part adds an interesting dynamic and makes you feel as if you’re part of the action. Performances from the young child actors are commendable and the screenplay, whilst riddled with clichés and cheesiness, had some shining moments of poignancy.
While there isn’t a whole lot for older audiences to cling on to, Earth to Echo has been likened to E.T. for the modern child audience. While it nowhere near reaches the standard of the Spielberg classic, Earth to Echo is a simple, enjoyable foray into a science fiction world that will keep kids entertained for its 100-minute run time.