Earth to Echo Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese C. Hartwig. Directed by Dave Green. Rated PG. Now playing.
Like J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, Earth to Echo owes a lot to ’80s kids-adventure movies like E.T., The Goonies and Flight of the Navigator, but director Dave Green doesn’t come close to replicating the emotional depth or sense of wonder that Abrams was able to capture. Instead, Earth to Echo is a low-rent imitation, shot in a found-footage style that mostly makes it look cheap and slapdash, with half-hearted character arcs and very little suspense.
The three preteen friends (played by Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley and Reese C. Hartwig) who rescue an injured alien are likable but one-dimensional, and the performances by the young actors are pretty broad. The alien itself, which looks like a little robotic owl, is cute enough for a merchandising bonanza, but its story of trying to find its way home is a blatant E.T. rip-off. Kids may not realize how blandly derivative Earth to Echo is, but their parents, at least, should know better.