Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt
Directed by: Dave Green
Written by: Henry Gayden
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 29 min
Once again intelligent alien life travels to Earth, and makes the mistake of visiting the United States of shoot first and ask questions later! Don’t these movie aliens keep in touch with each other? Couldn’t Echo call E.T. or Starman and say ‘So, Earth, worth a visit?’ Evidently not because Echo, who looks like an adorable space owl, approaches our planet and gets blasted out of the sky. His subsequent cries for help are then picked up by some local kids who come to his aid, and help Echo find spare parts to fix his ship.
Earth to Echo is one of those ‘found footage’ films, and to be honest I’ve never been a fan of the genre. Having the footage seemingly shot by the characters in the story does tend to make the movie feel more realistic. But only to a point, and the found footage genre to me has always felt like a cheap gimmick, and a way for studio’s to produce cheap, yet somewhat effective horror flicks, that rack up respectable profits despite having limited appeal with audiences.
Earth to Echo though isn’t a horror film, it’s a science fiction family drama similar to movies like E.T or Explorers. Actually very similar, except in one all important way. Those other films were actually good! Earth to Echo’s shaky camera footage was incredibly annoying to watch, and after about 35 minutes into this nonsense, I started to feel nauseous and seriously considered leaving the theater to get some air. I stuck it out though, and what I saw just didn’t make a tremendous amount of sense.
The friendship between the three main characters is lazily established with montages to inspirational sounding music, and annoying voice over dialog. The addition of the lone female character also felt contrived to broaden this films targeted young teen audience. The ‘evil’ government element of the story is woefully underdeveloped, and the entire reason for space owl’s visit to the planet isn’t really explained.
As I sat there considering how quickly I could make it to one of the theater’s bathrooms to vomit, I wondered how much better this film could have been if it was shot in a regular manner. But I expect the entire reason for the found footage work was to try to differentiate Earth to Echo from the other films it clearly steals inspiration from.
On this movie going adventure, I had the pleasure of being accompanied by my 13 year old niece, Kaitlyn. She actually enjoyed the film, and wasn’t bothered by the camera work. So it seems this film does hold some entertainment value for its target audience. Older audiences however, will likely have seen and loved the other films I have mentioned here, and may take issue with how derivative Earth to Echo is, while also finding the shaky camera work unnecessary and annoying.
With the varied quality camera work and the rapid movement, a big theater screen showing is not recommended. At home a regular DVD or streaming show on your TV or laptop will do.
The camera work of course. It made me feel ill, and it took about an hour after the movie ended for me to feel right again.