Earth to Echo

Director: Dave Green

Starring: Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford, Cassius Willis, Drake Kemper, Mary Pat Gleason

Rated: PG (Some action and peril, and mild language)

After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.

 

Earth to Echo

By Matt Greene

I wanted to love Earth to Echo: it has found footage scifi, a group of rambunctious kids, a good score, and a lovable Wall-E-esque robot. Sadly, it’s just not good and, more importantly, unneeded. Despite some decent humor and some fun in the scifi action, it brings little new to the kids-on-an-adventure genre. It’s at best bland and at worst annoying; awkwardly performed, style-less, and forgettable.

It’s the story of three pre-teen friends in a town being leveled by a mysterious government project. They spend their last night together on one final adventure, befriending an alien robot. If E2E’s plot sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a shameless mix of E.T. and The Goonies, only worse than both. The unknown young actors are completely out of their depth. The main protagonist is unbearably irritating, and the characters are nowhere near true: way too focused, determined and emotionally in touch to be believable.

These performances hurt the found footage gimmick, which must feel natural in order to work. Not only is it not natural, the found footage rules are often broken, with strange edits and camera shots totally unexplained. It becomes more of a distraction than an effective tool.

My father-in-law describes The Goonies, one of my favorites, as simply a bunch of kids running around and yelling. Maybe I’m getting old, but that’s how I would describe E2E. It’s the classic “adults just don’t understand” story, but everything the kids do is so incredibly destructive I found myself siding with the antagonist adults! Kids will undoubtedly enjoy it, but it’s just too familiar and unremarkable for me to get behind.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Earth to Echo

By Cole Schneider

A successful film homage works on its own terms and leaves the audience wanting to watch the movies of their nostalgia. “Earth to Echo” just made me glad I was given the opportunity to go home and sleep.

The story follows some kids who spend a night looking for adventure and stumble upon something greater. They find a friendly alien and work to restore him with his own species–in other words, it’s E.T. The film owes a whole lot to Spielberg’s 80s Sci-Fi films, which I must assume the filmmakers enjoyed as children.

However, where Spielberg used the same setup to create empathy in his complex characters, “Earth to Echo” merely acknowledges the existence of such things. Every time something with human depth emerges–disinterested parents, relationship fears, selfish friends–the film neither passes over the problem with childish aplomb nor dives into them with a childish curiosity.

Instead, “Earth to Echo” just gives its kids trite dialogue that pounds these things into submission without any real resolution or leading. For a film that is clearly about overcoming the difficulties of long-distance communication it seems to never take those difficulties seriously. So why should I take the film seriously?

Moreover, it’s no fun to poke fun at child actors, but in a film that is carried almost one-hundred percent by a few kids, it sure would have helped if they were more capable. Rather than taking your kid to see “Earth to Echo”, just pop in your copy of “E.T.” and then go out and see “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Your kid will silently thank you for it.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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