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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Earth To Echo | Brian 'Astro' Bradley, Teo Halm, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese C. Hartwig | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Earth to Echo

The story is way too familiar.  An extraterrestrial is stranded on earth.  Government “officials” are in hot pursuit of the mysterious critter and some young kids are the only ones to come to its rescue determined to help it return to its spacecraft and get back home. Throw in some major bonding between the creature and one of the youngsters and it is obvious that Stephen Spielberg's classic sci fi adventure ET was the inspiration for Earth to Echo.  The similarities are loud and clear. Add elements reminiscent from Goonies, Super 8, and Coverfield to name a few, and there is little originality to be found in the story.

Featuring no big name stars, the cast is lead by Brian “Astro” Bradley, the obnoxious, preteen rapper desperately in need of an attitude adjustment a few seasons back on X Factor.  Since then, he has simmered down, grown up a bit and in taking a stab at acting, is the only recognizable face among the three leading young actors.

The story kicks off as three best friends and their families are about to be uprooted from their suburban Nevada home and forced to move to make way for the construction of a superhighway that would destroy their neighborhood.

Left powerless to do anything to stop it, wannabe filmmaker Tuck (Bradley) decides to videotape every minute of the last days with his best buds, foster kid Alex (Teo Halm) and tech nerd Munch, whom his mother refers to as an “acquired taste” (Reese Hartwig), before they are separated by utilizing multiple cameras, including one hidden in a pair of eyeglasses.

Distracted by a strange “barking” sound coming from their cell phones and an image on it that is related to a map, the trio devises a plan to do some investigating on their own. Unbeknownst to their parents, they sneak out of their houses late at night and bike into the desert to try and find where the signals are coming from. Soon, their trek leads to the discovery of a strange looking metallic cylinder embedded in the ground containing a (CGI created) hand size robotic alien resembling an owl with huge glowing blue eyes, that is only able to communicate through beeping sounds, one meaning yes and two meaning no. The boys eventually decipher that the creature had crash landed, is alone and lost in the middle of nowhere, and can't return home until it has collected all of the missing parts to its spaceship. Alex, no stranger to being left alone forms a bond with the small extraterrestrial, whom he dubbs Echo.  To help him, the kids embark on an adventure that leads them to a pawn shop, a bar, an arcade, Emma's bedroom, and ultimately a junkyard, while trying to elude government agents disguised as construction workers, that have another agenda.

At one point, the obligatory (as in needed to attract young female audiences) hot girl from school, Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) joins up with the boys on their adventure and proves to come in handy as a distraction when they are approached and questioned by some Feds disguised as construction workers.

Henry Gayden's script is very predictable,  not very imaginative and suffers from plot holes, contrivances, inconsistencies and unexplained elements. First time director Dave Green's decision to shoot the film with a hand held, jittery camera doesn't help it any since the effect is dizzying and off putting.

On the plus side, Echo is cute and appealing.  His ability to assemble, disassemble and manipulate metallic objects is highlighted during one of the most visually impressive (as in awesome use of special effects) scenes in the film involving an impending head on collision with an 18 wheeler.  Also, the three young leads are natural, likable actors that capture your attention.

The way I see it, Earth to Echo can very well be described as ET for a generation of young movie goers who weren't born when it was originally released over thirty years ago. Earth to Echo is just a mediocre rip off that lacks the emotional warmth, charm and connection. On the other hands, kids who never saw ET won't know the difference and can learn a thing or two from the messages of lasting friendships and making a difference.

Stay after the credits to catch a scene that suggests there may be a sequel in the works.  Echo again?  Sounds redundant, wouldn't you say.

 

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