Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Something has landed on Earth.
And it’s stuck.
Across town, a group of young friends discover the landing and set off to find it. But when they do find it, it changes their lives forever..
Brian “Astro” Bradley – Tuck
Reese Hartwig – Munch
Teo Halm – Alex
Ella Wahlestedt – Emma
Jason Gray-Stanford – Dr. Lawrence Masden
Echo – Himself
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: this is a children’s movie. If you’re going along to the cinema as an adult thinking you’re in for an ‘interesting’ or ‘in-depth’ bit of sci-fi, you’re wrong. Because ultimately, Earth To Echo is a handful of children no more than twelve years old whizzing around on their bikes whilst on a quest for ‘parts’ a little alien creature needs in order to fix his spaceship and get home. After discovering a piece of ‘junk’ which seems to echo the noises they make (speaking, clapping, etc.), Alex, Munch and Tuck hide themselves away in a deserted barn where the real fun begins..
The ‘junk’ opens to reveal a tiny creature of some sort who can understand the what the boys’ say to it, and responds to them. There follows a scene where the boys enjoy the splendour of conversation with an alien, which then moves on to the real stuff – the mission for parts. This movie takes place during one night, being filmed continuously by Tuck on camcorder. The boys are sent to various locations all over their state by a mapping system Echo zaps into their mobile phones. Once at each location, they need to find the metallic object Echo needs as a part for his ship which he immediately absorbs and becomes slightly bigger.
I’m not going to lie – this movie is a load of bollocks, from beginning to end. But then I’m not a child so this is obvious. For younger viewers Earth To Echo will entertain. It’s not brilliant, but it will deliver the right amount of “oooh” and “aaah” reactions due to its child actors racing around on their bikes, the feeling of adventure and discovery, and of course Echo himself, who is nicely animated.
As I sat watching this movie, I realised something was missing. I can’t pinpoint exactly what, but it needed an injection. More of a kick. Earth To Echo certainly isn’t your normal child-befriends-alien flick; this is displayed clearly in the lack of relationship values between the two species. It centres more around the friendship between the three boys, focusing heavily on how they get on together, their reactions when one of them is hurt or seperated from the group, etc.
A few other critics / forums have billed Earth To Echo as ‘the new E.T.’ and ‘The Goonies’.
It really isn’t. Because in E.T. a very powerful bond was formed between the children and the alien to the point of them actually loving him like a family member. They discover E.T. and the witty antics immediately kick off, blossoming into a wonderful relationship – hence why the ending is quite emotional for some viewers.
In Earth To Echo, it is at least forty-five minutes before the creature makes his appearance, and even then it’s as though he is incredibly shy. He keeps his distance from them for a while. The relationship between boys and alien was broken; a massive divide which immediately stamped out any magical or adventurous atmosphere. In a nutshell, Echo uses the group of friends to find parts for his ship so he can get out of there – that’s the plot. And it’s not very exciting. But again, younger viewers (I’d say from about five to nine years old) will no doubt enjoy the overall ‘wow, we found an alien’ concept.
This movie definitely borrows key elements from other features. For example:
Chronicle (2012) – uses the same style of documenting alien activity by use of handheld camera. Also mirrors the three friends aspect.
Super 8 (2011) – a bunch of young kids, alien activity, lingering looks into the sky, recording it all on camera.. need I say more?
Wall-E (2008) – this movie came to mind when I first saw the poster for Earth To Echo. I thought to myself, “oh look – a sequel to Wall-E”. I mean Christ, the two metal personalities even have a similar look.
This movie was basically made from the ingredients of other features, and glued together quickly in the hopes of bringing something new and refreshing to the screen. But in all honesty, it couldn’t have been more recycled. Maybe director Dave Green wanted to wow audiences worldwide with a “hey guys check it out, no-one’s done one like THIS before..!”
..didn’t work really, did it Dave. Even the poster is similar to E.T.
So this wouldn’t be first choice on my rental list, but the movie brought a smile to my face whenever Echo was on screen. And it was all down to the lush special effects used to create the cute little bugger. Just a blink of those sad wide eyes and a tilt of his head, and I went all gooey. I was actually captivated by Echo whenever he was on screen; he radiates with a gorgeous blue-purple colour, makes cute buzzing sounds, etc. He’s bloody adorable, I was sat with a smile on my face during his main scenes. Yes, call me a Homo (I am), or soppy (I am), but I loved Echo – and wanted to take him home. Seriously though, my eyes were glued to the screen as I absorbed the warmth of the character – he was definitely the best part of this movie. Yet this is why my opinin of Earth To Echo is split; a lovely colourful character shoved into a slack film whose approach to cinema is to borrow ideas from other films.
Earth To Echo is a soft watch, and definitely for younger viewers. Its lack of substance and plot gives it a bare structure but no decent filling. Think of Reeses’s Pieces – without the peanut butter. I mean, where’s the fun in that?
From an adult point of view, I wouldn’t sit through this tripe again if you paid me to do so. But for children it’s a gloriously tacky adventure flick they’ll no doubt be entertained hugely by. If you have little ones, take them along – give them an afternoon out they’ll enjoy more than being taken to the supermarket.