Earth to Echo (PG)

All parents know that finding things to do with the children during the summer holidays isn’t easy. I can honestly say that both my children (one is 13, the other is 10) ask the same question before bedtime everyday of the holiday: “What are we doing tomorrow?” So I thought I’d take the time to report on a recent trip to the cinema with my two. Hopefully it will give you an honest, unbiased parent’s view of a brand new film that may help you fill half a day of the six-week break if you need one.

When I read the brief synopsis of this film on the Odeon website I judged it to be pretty much a remake of E.T. and I wasn’t disappointed with that assessment. The story is based on the same concept (i.e. an alien apparently stranded here on earth) but I wouldn’t let familiarity with the format put you off. If you think about it, most stories are founded on just relatively few tried and tested ingredients and this film is no different. I recall as a child going to pantomimes loosely based on the Peter Pan story where I was convinced Tinkerbell was going to die unless I shouted several times with all the other children: “I do. I do believe in fairies”. Watch out for that moment in this film if you didn’t spot it in E.T.

I won’t go into anymore detail about the story itself or I shall be forced to put a ‘Spoiler Alert’ at the start of this blog. Suffice to say the plot is fast-moving and entertaining. At no time did I catch my two yawning nor did either of them ask how much longer the film had to go (a result in itself!) They found the computer generated alien of this film every bit as cute as the ‘puppet’ E.T. and they warmed to the human characters. It was very American in places (for example the lead characters use a lot of American slang) but my two seemed to cope with that. Note to self: Don’t let them watch quite so much Simpsons in the future!

I supposed the acid test is – did my children both enjoy it? The answer to that is: Yes they did. With just a couple of caveats, I enjoyed it too. Firstly don’t let the direction put you off. The film purports to be recorded through a camcorder carried by one of the main characters with all the out of focus shots and unconventional camera angles you’d expect if that were so. I found this extremely off-putting at first but eventually I got used to it. Secondly it is a children’s film and as such doesn’t have a lot in it for adults (unlike the humour in the wonderful Toy Story and Ice Age type films). Despite its PG rating, I couldn’t find anything that required my ‘parental guidance’ and I’d have been quite happy for my two to see it on their own so you might want to consider that.

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