A family crowd-pleaser, "Earth to Echo" is a mildly amusing adventure with winsome child actors and an unusual sci-fi premise.
The movie, reminiscent of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Wall-E" and "Chronicle," is set in middle-class suburbia, where three best buddies are forced to move with their families because of new highway construction.
The precocious lads are reluctantly packing up for new schools and new experiences, and anxious about starting over. The trio of colorful characters are Alex, Tuck and Munch (Teo Halm, Astro, Reese C. Hartwig).
The boys investigate why their cell phones are going wacky, which leads them to the story of their lives -- a close encounter with some sort of alien being.
The boys are natural -- cute, funny, smart -- with distinctive personality traits.
However, the adults, mostly in the background, are the garden variety parental units.
The friendship aspect is nailed by the three young actors, who convey easy chemistry between the neighborhood trio of BFFs essential for the story to work.
The technology angle, of course, is state-of-the-art, and the visual effects are special, with a big "Wow" moment at the finale that I won't spoil.
What Doesn't Work
Told in a hand-held cinema verite style, that can be jarring for those who don't like the quick cuts and jerky movements.
The plot is derivative of similar films, with its scrap metal gadgetry and suburbia scenario. So its not very original. But it does make a convincing case.
2 1/2 stars out of 4
Director: Dave Green
Starring: Astro, Reese C. Hartwig, Teo Halm, Ella Wahlestadt
Rated: PG for some action and peril, and mild language