2014 / Director. David Green.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
EARTH TO ECHO is one of the coolest kids film I have seen since THE LAST MIMZY (2007). It is part ET, part THE GOONIES, part SUPER-8 and part CHRONICLE... and when mashed together it is a fantastic, intelligent and unexpected adventure. Presented entirely as a found-footage film it breaks away from the typical formula by tactfully utilising a multi-cam structure. The story smoothly transitions from a go-pro camera to a spy-cam (pair of specs) and then a trusty old cam-corder. Three best friends are forced to move away when their neighbourhood is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a bypass. On their final day together their mobile phones suddenly spaz out and simultaneously display schematic patterns. The electronic gibberish looks to be a map and the boys sneak out during the night to follow its directions. What they discover is an alien cover up and they hold the key to sending a stranded alien creature home. With government heavyweights in pursuit and a seemingly endless map of instructions to follow they ride from one location to another in search of parts that will help unravel the mystery. They are also joined by a girl who proves to be smarter than the three boys put together. This is a thrilling and totally absorbing adventure that almost feels out of place amongst today's generic and substandard family films. Had it come along during the mid 80s then I can almost guarantee that it would have become an enduring and beloved classic. Sadly it was made at a time when children's attention spans are short and the traditional sense of adventure has been lost. Few kids these days venture past their front doors and so the wondrous enthusiasm for exploring the outside world must seem like a foreign and pointless concept to most. And for that reason perhaps the adults will take more from EARTH TO ECHO than the kids. Hopefully it dabbles enough with modern technology to tell its story that it might just captivate some younger viewers. The film was produced by Disney but cast aside and sold to an independent distributor in a stupendous and narrow-minded studio turnaround. Disney gave up a wonderful property by doing so. Despite all of the film's obvious influences it remains a completely original and ambitious release. I was glued to every single frame and got totally swept up by it. The multi-cam is handled really well and it never becomes tedious. The four lead child actors are all exceptional and have a clear grasp on the film's concepts. They each deliver believable and sincere performances which ground the film with a realistic, yet spirited understanding. This is director David Green's first feature length film and he has excelled himself. Sadly the film seems to have already slipped into obscurity with few people I know even aware that it exists. Fortunately for David Green it has been an exceptional example of his skills and he was recently assigned to direct the upcoming TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES sequel. It's about time we had another truly smart and adventurous kids flick. This is a real throwback to the great family films of the 80s and deserves people's attention. Check it out as soon as you can.