'Earth to Echo' resonates with a charming sci-fi adventure
July 2, 2014
"Earth to Echo" (2014) 3.5 / 4 stars - by Jeff Mitchell - “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” - Helen Keller
For Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Astro) and Munch (Reese Hartwig), these best friends - in their early teens - don’t walk in the dark, but instead, bike together in the dark through the Nevada desert to solve a mystery.
Along the way, they truly discover the meaning of friendship in a wonderful and charming sci-fi adventure, “Earth to Echo”.
Director Dave Green and writer Henry Gayden successfully create a throwback 80‘s story - in Speilberg-like universe - but with an updated 21st century feel.
Here in Mulberry Woods, NV, massive amounts of stress plagues our aforementioned school-aged leads.
I’m not talking about angst with girls or excessive amount of social studies homework, but a government agency is building a freeway right smack dab in the middle of their neighborhood.
This “all of a sudden” mandate is displacing families and when parents decide to move to other states, childhood friendships - unfortunately - become collateral damage and almost assuredly dissolve.
As Alex, Tuck and Munch attempt to cope with their upcoming migratory change, their collective lifeline of communication, their cell phones, begin acting crazy.
Their phones’ screens display nothing but jagged lines and florescent bright colors, and the three soon discover, this previously thought non-sensical pattern is truly a pattern after all.
They are staring at a map.
They decide to tell some well-place fibs to their parents, hop on their bikes and head into the unknown to find what lies at the other end.
Right away, Halm, Astro and Hartwig fall into their characters very well and successfully anchor the film.
First, due to a foster child’s upbringing and real or perceived lack of attention, Alex’s pragmatism and clear lack of optimism forms one third of the triad.
On the other hand, Tuck no knows fear or at least tries to project sizable amounts of courage and bravado.
He is the type of person to lead troops into a hopeless battle with encouraging words and a pat on the back, whether or not he knows his efforts could be hopeless.
Munch is the scientist.
He’s the human calculator, or if he cannot come up with the equation, he owns a room full of servers and miles of cable and wire to find the answer.
He’s also very funny and delivers several well-timed and placed laughs.
These kids aren’t the most likely candidates to solve this complicated puzzle, but they have one thing on their side: the innocence of youth!
Clicking in at just under 90 minutes, “Earth to Echo” doesn’t burn calories with fluff or over dramatization.
The film introduces the main players and sends them off on their adventure.
They find a far-out friend and discover the meaning of friendship.
The movie's pace moves quickly, and especially with the use of cell phones, Skype and text, Green captures the way kids communicate with one another.
Dialogue through current technology flows back and forth, but doesn’t feel forced or contrived.
It feels natural, and when the story moves towards the desert, more traditional modes of socializing find their way into the mix: face-to-face communication.
“Earth to Echo” works.
This familiar narrative feels very fresh, and it owns plenty of heart and warmth.
To borrow Helen Keller’s quote, the three following a dim light together in the middle of the night is much better than sulking alone in the light.
No matter what our age, there is a lesson for all of us.