Movie Review: Earth to Echo (2014)

earth to echo movie still - owl robot alien

Basically E.T. + Batteries Not Included + Stand By Me in found footage form

A tale of innocent friendship; three kids embark on a secret adventure together, find a robot owl-like alien, make friends with it, try to prevent it from authorities’ reach and intend to help it go back home. Sounds very, very, very familiar? Well, as said on the headline above, it’s ’cause it’s very, very similar to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982), Batteries Not Included (1987), elements of Stephen King’s Stand By Me (1986) and maybe J.J. Abram’s Super 8 (2011) as well, but completely through the eyes of camera devices.

The three main characters are Alex (Teo Halm) the emo pretty boy, Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley) the asshole black kid, and Munch (Reese Hartwig) the typical chubby coward, who are joined by Emma later in the film, the girl character serves no real purpose other than to fill in the lack of intelligence and bravery from the boys? And some underage eye candy for viewers? None of the actors’ performance stand out but I can’t decide if it’s them or the new director, or both along with the new screenwriter. Also, the metal Furby, I mean, “Echo”, main attraction of the film, does not appear enough on screen (heck, it doesn’t even appear in the still images below) and there’s almost no development of the “friendship” between all of them, and therefore I was absolutely not emotionally attached at all. Where’s the magic? Didn’t feel it. So not only it’s a ripoff, it’s a poor ripoff. Calling it a minor tribute to the classics would be a compliment.

E.T. vs. Earth to Echo – some of the similarities (with spoilers)

Earth to Echo vs. E.T. comparison similarities movie stills meme

When they say “story by” Henry Gayden and Andrew Panay, I believe it actually means “ripped off by”, but besides the blatant cliches and plot similarities, I also didn’t see a significant point of doing the film in found footage style other than conveniently skipping certain parts for the sake of shortening the story. The view is not only from one camera, the sequences are edited, and it has music and narration as well, so why didn’t they just do it in normal cinematography? Good excuse in the plot though, for the characters to document the entire thing.

If the purpose was for nostalgia, it didn’t do so for me. But if all they wanted was to reuse classic ideas and just put them together in a found footage form for the younger generation to watch, they’ve done it. However, I had seen a ripoff from the 80s that I felt was more entertaining than this. If you grew up around the lates 80s or early 90s, you might remember Mac and Me (1988), the E.T. that drinks coke. The only reason why it has gotten more negative response was before it was released within the same decade as E.T., and just a year after Batteries Not Included. Good for Disney, they’ve chosen a better time to revive a concept. Oh wait, Disney sold Earth to Echo‘s distribution rights before it was released. I guess even they didn’t think it was worth any more of their time.

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What I would’ve named the film: “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial 2014”

Censorship in Malaysia: It’s a pretty clean movie for kids. Nothing seemed to be cut at all for the media screening at TGV 1 Utama.

Second opinion: My girlfriend also felt that it was not enough to engage emotionally but thought that the design of Echo is very cute, like a “baby owl”.

Verdict: You might enjoy it if you’re under 13 and have never seen E.T. or any of the other films alike.

Rating: 1 / 5

Earth to Echo movie poster malaysia tgvGenre: Family sci-fi adventure
Running Time: 91 minutes
Director: Dave Green
Screenwriter: Henry Gayden
Cast: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt

Malaysia Release Date: 24 July 2014
Rated: P13
Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Panay Films, Walt Disney Studios (IMDB)

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  1. Phazer

    Movies are a powerful medium; sometimes watching someone else go through something in a film can give you clues as to how you can handle it differently than you have so far.

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