Review of Earth to Echo, Directed by David Green
Cute, but not enough to overcome its one-dimensional story, Earth to Echo is a poorly executed homage to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The tale has been told before: young friends discovering an alien lifeform only to be caught up in a rescue mission to send it back to its interstellar home, all the while facing evil adults trying to stop them. The young friends are Tuck, Alex, and Munch who spend their last night together following a signal on their phone. The signal leads them to the alien lifeform–a mechanical, floating owl they name Echo. The novel addition is smart phones and a cumbersome use of found-footage.
Take away the graphics (which got annoying at times) and the shaky camera (meant to provide suspense), and Earth to Echo is a boring story that lacks true excitement because we all know the ending. At times the movie drags, especially as they go from location to location trying to help Echo locate different items that will help him get home. The entrance of a female character halfway through the movie is unable to prop up interest.
Nonetheless, it’s hard not to appreciate the kids in the film and the childlike wonder portrayed in their adventure. Tuck and Alex get into a fight over what seems petty at first–Alex feeling abandoned–but we recognize the pettiness of adult conflicts; the difference being that our conflicts are masked in more complex circumstances.At the same time, the tumultuous life of adolescence fails to make it to the screen. The bad guys are so harmless that it tiptoes into Home Alone territory, without the slapstick humor. The angst of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the best film to compare with Earth to Echo is Super 8, JJ Abrams’s own Spielberg homage. Director David Green’s offering leaves much wanting when compared to the haunting portrayal of childhood and loss in Super 8. Understandably, the two are very different films, but the evident desire behind Earth to Echo is to bring E.T. to a new generation and on this count it fails.
There is no satisfying resolution since there has hardly been any buildup. The parents discover that their kids have been gone all night doing who knows what, but the parent-child relationship is not pre-established so their reunion has no spark. There was little conflict among the kids, so no major moment of forgiveness. Echo is a robotic alien that cannot speak and has limited emotional capacity, so a potentially meaningful farewell between Alex and Echo ends up being a cliche, much like the rest of the film.