DVD REVIEW: EARTH TO ECHO / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: DAVE GREEN / SCREENPLAY: HENRY GAYDEN / STARRING: TEO HALM, BRIAN ‘ASTRO’ BRADLEY, REESE HARTWIG, ELLA WAHLESTEDT, JASON GRAY-STANFORD / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 17TH
Back in the 1980s, a wave of children’s adventure films (mostly from Steven Spielberg’s camp) came out that managed to connect with both adults and kids alike. It was a glorious age that seemed to fall out of vogue as the decade went on until they disappeared altogether. Then, a couple of years ago, J.J. Abrams managed to bring a little ‘80s kid movie magic back to the big screen with Super 8. It was only a matter of time before somebody else had a go at adding a new title to the (sub) genre, which brings us to Dave Green’s Earth to Echo, a sci-fi kids’ adventure with a healthy dose of the found-footage genre thrown in for good measure.
The film tells the story of three friends who are about to be separated when one of them is being forced to move away. For their last night together they decide to investigate the strange signals that they are receiving on their mobile phones, leading them to discover a small robotic alien - whom they name Echo - and their journey takes them across town to help him find the parts he needs to repair his crashed spaceship.
There are a lot of things to like about the film, especially the likeable child performances. The Echo character itself is incredibly sweet in a way that small robot aliens haven’t been since Batteries Not Included, and the special effects used to bring Echo to life are very well done. But then there are a lot of problems with the film. It feels incredibly slow to get going and then rushes through to the end once Echo has been found, and then there is the usual shady organisation that act as the villains of the film, but they are so underdeveloped that they are pretty much a non-entity within the movie.
The biggest problem though, is that the film is sadly lacking in the kind of magic and wonder that made films like E.T., The Goonies and even Flight of the Navigator childhood favourites for a certain generation. Like most of the films that use it, the found-footage gimmick takes you out of the film at times, merely acting as a distraction for huge chunks of it.
On the whole, the film is a well made and enjoyable family film with likeable performances from all involved, and with a cute character at its heart - it’s just a shame that it’s missing that key element that will make it a family favourite for years to come.
Special Features: ‘Friends No Matter How Far’ / ‘Creating The Truck Scene’ / 'Casting The Characters' / 'We Made That!: The Making Of Earth To Echo’ / Deleted Scenes
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