LOS ANGELES— Today's Hollywood movies, even those that appeal to young people, have gotten darker and more violent when compared to family movies from the 1980s. A new movie called Earth to Echo is trying to recapture that style of action adventure, similar to Steve Spielberg's classic film E.T. -- but with a modern twist.
Audiences will see action, adventure, suspense and even an alien in the movie Earth to Echo. But what they won’t see is violence.
“You’ll never see much fighting, hand-to-hand combat. There aren’t tanks, trucks. There aren’t guns or whatnot,“ said Ella Wahlstedt, who plays the role of Emma.
Emma is one of a group of friends who find a strange message on their phone. They experience a life changing adventure as, together, they discover who sent that message, and why.
Director Dave Green said he wanted to make a movie like the ones he grew up watching.
”I was making a movie for myself and the kid in me. So hopefully we’ve made a movie that appeals to a 31-year old just as it would to a 12- or 13-year old or anyone in the family,” said Green.
There are very few non-animated movies these days that do that, said Wahlestedt.
“I think it’s a lost genre. You know, you see a lot of 80s movies, it’s constantly compared to E.T. It’s similar in the sense that there’s an alien. At the same time it has a bit of an edge just because of all the modern technology that’s incorporated in it,” she said.
Earth to Echo incorporates social media and is told from the point of view of the characters, including Tuck, played by actor Brian “Astro” Bradley, who experiences events through a video camera.
“It’s very today. You have family movies that were either animated, you know not very relatable in real life, but this is relatable. Everybody films. You got Instagram, Vine, technology is very relevant in the movie,” said Bradley.
Green said there is a reason why 'family-friendly' movies are considered a lost genre.
”There has been a shift in tone in recent years to present movies as darker,” he said.
Adam Feinsilver, who saw the premiere with his children, thinks there is a market for light-hearted movies the whole family can enjoy.
“The market is there. The kids are there. If you have a kid that likes a movie you’re going to find a million other kids that like the same movie. I think that problem that producers have is they try to bring something to the studios that the studios will green light and the studios don’t necessarily want to go with what kids are going to like, they’re going to go with what’s done well over the last few years,” said Feinsilver.
Feinsilver said families don’t necessarily want movies that are darker - just ones that have good writing and a good story.