The prospect of yet another found footage movie – this time shot from the perspective of three teenage boys, is hardly one that fills you with much promise. And moments into Dave Green’s science fiction production Earth to Echo, it feels like any such apprehensions were well-judged; yet as we progress through this tale the film really finds its feet and manages to blend adventure with pathos to great effect.
For three inseparable best buddies Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Astro) and Munch (Reese Hartwig), they find their friendship on the brink of destruction as a new governmental endeavour means they all have to move homes, for good. On their final night together, they decide to go out on one last adventure, following a series of encrypted messages that eventually lead them to an abandoned alien called Echo, who requires their assistance getting back home.
Green is evidently – and affectionately – influenced by the likes of E.T. and Chronicle, because Earth to Echo is something of a hybrid of the two. Though there are inevitable moments where you just roll your eyes in response to the kids filming instances that would actually provoke nothing but running and screaming in real life, rather than reaching for your camera, the target audience are of course children, and thankfully, kids aren’t quite so cynical. But where this film comes into its element is surprisingly not in the adventurous, action-packed sequences, but the intimate portrayal of friendship at that age. It’s touching, and explores just how close you can be to your friends, and how the potential, premature finality of it is alarming and upsetting. Something that perhaps at the time you weren’t so aware of – but as this film is of course made by an adult, it benefits from the nostalgia that is implemented, truly capturing that vitality and sense of foreverness children have.
The poignant aspects don’t detract from the more adventurous, as the journey our protagonists go on makes for a hugely entertaining watch. Found footage films may be a tired concept, and this one has its flaws, but it’s of great commendation that Green has been able to come out relatively unscathed.