Earth to Echo

Earth to Echo

  • ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982) meets Chronicle (2012), Earth to Echo is unabashedly derivative, but still not terrible.
  • Or memorable.
  • The film’s familiarity is not its central problem. Even if we do not know the story of ET or the visual style of Chronicle, Earth to Echo fumbles far too many important moments to truly succeed.
  • Take, for example, the film’s many coincidences, the most offensive of which is the method by which writer Henry Gayden and director Dave Green force Emma’s (Ella Wahlestedt) way into the previously male-only plot-driving group.
  • Consider also Emma’s characterization. (Note: Wahlestedt does everything she can to make the character seem more compelling than she is; I am not offering commentary on the actor, but rather on the character.) Emma is a flawless cliche, cute and loyal, but also abrasive, resourceful and emotionally strong. She is not an interesting person; she is a boy’s fantasy.
  • Green’s found-footage style shaky cam hurts Earth to Echo even more, for at least two reasons. First, as the story goes along, it is increasingly hard to suspend our disbelief, to accept that these boys would still be filming these events. Second, and more importantly, though we understand parts of Tuck’s (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley) personality by his choice to film events, the camera’s constant shakiness and inconsistent focus rapidly becomes distracting.
  • Gayden and Green’s characterization of adults is just as ineffective. Here grown ups, both the parents and the villains, are far too stupid, too easily swayed or fooled by children.
  • All of which is lamentable, because Earth to Echo has significant merits.
  • Some of the effects are jaw-droppingly brilliant, especially when Echo disassembles and reassembles a semi.
  • Alex (Teo Halm), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Tuck are interesting and well-developed. More importantly, the relationships between them are authentic and moving.
  • Plus, the child actors are very good. Special mention to Halm, who is frequently laden with sappy and manipulative dialogue but still manages to shine.
  • The picture’s themes are appropriate for its target audience but still mature enough to maintain an adult’s attention.
  • And the plot is rapidly-paced and sufficiently entertaining.
  • In other words, Earth to Echo has the ingredients to be more successful.
  • If only it didn’t also make so many missteps.
  • Final Grade: C-

6 thoughts on “Earth to Echo

  1. I’ve done very little research on this film and its release honestly came very suddenly. I’ve been educated today, good sir. Perhaps this is looking more like a strong rental at some point. Or maybe another trip to the local dollar theater for me.

  2. Big time shame that this disappoints. I knew it would be the case and I ain’t going to rush to see it but I enjoy the premise. It is like an updated E.T. as you pointed out. Hopefully children will still love it and not notice the poor writing choices!

    • My guess is it’ll still entertain the tween audience. But I doubt they look back at it the way people my age look at ET. It just isn’t nearly so special.

    • It is essentially a plot point for point rip off of ET. Which isn’t bad in and of itself, if this film had executed its characters as well as the first one did.

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