ByThe Brian Hogan, writer at Creators.co
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BuzzedReviews.com - Earth to Echo

SCORE: A Buzz Kill

The previews for this movie make it seem like director David Green is the next Steven Spielberg and that Earth to Echo is going to be this generations E.T. At first the idea of a rip-off re-make of that legendary classic made my skin crawl. It’s one thing to re-do The Exorcist, because that movie is meant to make your skin crawl; or even Robo Cop because let’s face it, we’ve all pretty much forgotten what that cookie cutter action movie was about in the first place. If you are reading this and just now finding out for the first time that Robo Cop is a remake or asking yourself what the hell E.T. is, then you had better not think of yourself as a cinema buff, and if you do, you need to brush up on the classics. Because E.T. was an instant classic, a true screen gem that brought families together in a generation of latchkey kids and deadbeat dads. And if it didn’t bring your family together, it had the cinematic heart to make you feel like part of a family anyway. It left indelible marks on the psyches of an entire generation of young people who can still remember the swell of joy and relief as E.T. touches his glowing finger to theirs, wanting nothing more than to go home. While Earth to Echo is not technically a remake of E.T. in the strictest sense, it may as well have been. It is about an alien stranded on earth who wants nothing more than to go home; and through a series of contrivances he enlists the help of a group of neighborhood kids to get him back where he needs to be. Sound familiar?

Despite this personal bias against the movie I toked away on my Shatter Tank, got stoned off my ass, and determined to give this flick a chance. I was in the mood to cry and be inspired so I was going in with an open mind. Even though I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to attempt a rehash of the basic premise of E.T. I figured if they pulled it off this would be one emotional and thrilling adventure and be for this generation the cathartic and inspiring story of triumph and hope that E.T. was almost 30 years ago for us. In our unraveling society this generation needs hope even more than we did in the Regan-era. But the movie failed to tug at my heart strings. It tried pulling them but didn’t rise to much more than a maddening barrage of cliche.

Someone over at the studio must have realized this flick was teetering on the brink of boring because there was some clever cinematography thrown in, presumably to take our minds off the glaring lack of plot. ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** The movie opens with each of our 13 year old protagonists giving a cellphone video interview about how they feel about their neighborhood being torn down to make room for a freeway. This immediately adds an urgency and poignancy to the plot that feels exciting at first. I am going to cry for sure, I think to myself, and I get excited, feeling high from the marijuana and hopeful. But this emotional arc is never capitalized on and the resolution of the main story comes so quick you almost feel ripped off when the credits start to roll. As powerful as my shatter tank is, it couldn’t keep my hopes from being shattered as this film limps to it’s anti-climax, containing the one hilarious moment of the film when one neighborhood mom seems to be the only one who saw the giant spaceship take off into the sky; everyone looking at her like she’s crazy.

After the initial interviews of the kids it becomes slowly apparent the entire movie is going to be told through the kids camera’s POV. The scenes vacillate between a camcorder, a bicycle camera and a hidden spy camera in one characters glasses. While this move at first feels clever, it quickly becomes nauseating. There are some innovative uses of this POV device like when an older kid knocks into one of the boys and all we see is the angle from the ground as he gets knocked over. But it becomes relentless. There is barely a steady shot in the movie and it started to feel like an amateur The Blair Witch Project. I was so motion sick by the end of this tepid tale of extraterrestrial woe that I wanted to go home just as much as Echo did. If you are in the mood for a heartwarming tale about an alien lost on planet Earth then go check out E.T., or if you want something more modern then 2011’s Paul is the way to go. Earth to society: this movie pretty much sucks.

Maybe I’m just stoned, but this turned out to be a pretty lousy afternoon at the movies. Tell me what you think in the comments section below.

MY SCORE: 2 out of 5 buds. These two hard-won buds are only being awarded to this movie for some clever use of the camera (although way overused) and because of the positive message about empowering yourself that it tries to communicate. It fails to accomplish an emotional crescendo, but any attempt to spread positivity around gets at least 1 Bud from this reviewer. In my opinion our society needs positive messages desperately more than we need good movies, but it’s really nice when they go hand in hand. A Buzz Kill

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