News

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

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

Atmosphere seen at Holly Robinson Peete's Screening of Relativity's "Earth To Echo." Photo: Associated Press/Arnold Turner/Invision for Relativity/HollyRod Foundation

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?

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Recent Headlines

in Local

Springfield Fire Captain Arrested for Wielding Gun

gun

The Menard County Sheriff's office says a Springfield Fire Department captain has been arrested for carrying a shotgun into a rural Athens home and threatening residents.

in Local

State Attorney General Warns Against Immigration Scammers

immigration reform

Lisa Madigan's office warns those applying for deportation relief to be on the lookout for scammers posing as Notarios.

in Local

Cullerton Helps Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

Tom Cullerton

HJR 91 helps returning veterans transition back to civilian life.

in Local

New Lincoln Exhibit Opens Today at Presidental Museum & Library

Lincoln Presidential Museum

New exhibit celebrates 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death and 10th anniversary of ALPLM.

in Local

Court Date Set to Determine State Retiree Healthcare Refunds

state_capitol_3

The state will refund money to about 75,000 state retirees who've been paying a portion of their pensions for health insurance.