Earth to Echo (2 stars)

Earth to Echo

Dave Green's directorial debut is an artless retread of the Spielberg-inspired Super 8

Debut director Dave Green’s family film rehashes JJ Abrams’ pleasingly retro Super 8 using herky-jerky footage, supposedly captured by the children involved. It’s a gimmick that results in a spew of ugly, hard-to-watch images; audiences who like to imagine that they could make a better film themselves may well, in this instance, be correct.

Earth to Echo starts with a group of kids bemoaning that upheaval caused by the building of a new highway will disband their merry group. Presumptuous lothario Tuck (Brian 'Astro' Bradley), troubled loner Alex (Teo Halm) and bumptious mother’s boy Munch (Reese Hartwig) find their plans for a celebratory last night together disrupted when their phones accidentally intercept a garbled transmission from an alien stranded in the desert. The boys saddle up and ride to the rescue, helping the metallic owl-like creature, the titular Echo, find his way back to his hidden spaceship, avoiding government authorities en route.

The new-fangled presentation (the film jumps on the found-footage bandwagon popularised by the horror genre) is presumably intended to compensate for the distinctly worn-out storytelling. The film slavishly follows familiar Spielbergian tropes without making the details count: the characterisation of the children is poor; their conflicts are unclear; and there’s a leering attitude towards women, particularly 'mannequin' pal Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) that’s uncomfortable to watch.

The expense involved in marketing blockbuster films means that knock-off cinema, in which filmmakers with no ideas of their own unofficially remake other people’s work, is on the decline. Earth to Echo bucks this trend, artlessly copying Super 8 (which was in itself a homage to Spielberg), making it impossible to see past the shameless plagiarism. Even the most easily pleased kids will be relieved when Echo finally goes home, not least as it will allow weary audiences to gratefully do the same.

General release from Fri 25 Jul.

Earth To Echo - Trailer

Earth to Echo

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 29min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Dave Green
  • Cast: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig
  • UK release: 25 July 2014

Kids' drama, in which Tuck (Bradley), Alex (Halm) and Munch (Hartwig) find an alien stranded in the desert, and attempt to get him back to his spaceship. An artless and shameless copy of Super 8; those who think they could make a better herky-jerky found-footage movie may well, in this instance, be correct.