REVIEW: ‘E.T.’ meets ‘Super 8’ in ‘Earth to Echo’

REVIEW: ‘E.T.’ meets ‘Super 8’ in ‘Earth to Echo’

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi | Run Time: 89 min | Rated: PG
Director: Dave Green | Starring: Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese C. Hartwig

By: George Wolf

Homey, middle class subdivisions. Kids on bikes. Spooky government types with flashlights and potentially evil aims. An adorable extra terrestrial who needs a friend. Lord, that sounds familiar.

E.T. gets a superficial but harmless reboot in Earth to Echo, the tale of three best buds spending their last night together before a neighborhood construction project sends their families in different directions. Rather than waste what little time they have left, they take off on a grand adventure that will test their bonds and see a couple of unpredicted additions to their group of pals.

What the film lacks in originality and depth, it sometimes makes up for with loose energy, naturalistic performances and good humor. Newcomer David Green collects a talented cast of mostly unseasoned youngsters to carry his tale. He curbs sentimentality nicely, and builds a giddy momentum appropriate for a “kids on a secret mission” storyline.

The screenplay by Henry Gayden offers some very humorous lines to a group who works to establish specific, believable characters. Reese Hartwig, in particular, gives the nerdy friend cliché a funny, nuanced turn, but the film boasts impressive performances all around.

Echo, though – the alien at the center of the kids’ adventure – never gets the chance to become a character at all, which seriously diminishes the overall impact of the drama and adventure. It’s one of many underdeveloped plotlines and characters, symptomatic of a storytelling style too slight to fit its content.

No one knows how to dig below the surface – not the director, the writer, or the young cast. As likeable as everything about the film is, it offers such a superficial treatment of the ideas it conveys that it rarely feels like a film. Instead, it presents a workmanlike restringing of dozens of reliable, familiar images and ideas from better films.

Worse still, it distances itself from an honest emotional impact. Yes, Spielberg was heavy-handed with sentimentality. But is there really a need for E.T.- lite?


Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

‘Pan’ taps origins of Peter Pan’s 100-year pop culture adventure


In the century since Scottish author J.M. Barrie created Peter Pan for a stage play then a book, the Neverland universe has inspired movies, books, TV shows, plays, video games and even a pop psychology syndrome describing emotionally immature men.

in Lifestyle

‘Like’ it or not, changes are coming to Facebook


The social network is launching a pilot test of "Reactions," which will allow users to express a range of emotions including love, happiness, anger, and sadness.

in Music

Taylor Swift is taking a break


After seven months on the road the "Shake It Off" singer is ready for some time off.

in Music

Miranda Lambert channeling heartbreak into new music


The "Mama's Broken Heart" hitmaker is turning her divorce into good songwriting material, insisting she has "never felt so inspired."

in Entertainment

Keanu Reeves wants to have a third ‘Bill & Ted’ adventure


The "Matrix" star says a script for the third installment of the "excellent" time-traveling franchise is in the works.


condition Condition: Partly Cloudy
Temperature: 63°
High: 64° - Low: 50°