“Earth to Echo”
In Theaters: July 2
Teo Halm – Alex
Brian “Astro” Bradley – Tuck
Reese Hartwig – Munch
Ella Wahlestedt – Emma
Word to the wise: Make sure there aren’t any millennials around if you catch yourself talking up Earth to Echo as being another E.T., The Goonies or Stand By Me because that it is not. On a scale of one to 10, it’s not even a Super 8, the 2011 Steven Spielberg-backed film that somewhat came close to capturing the magic of those coming-of-age ’80s classics. This isn’t even in the vicinity.
The nostalgia for the movies that defined our childhood gets lost in technology in the sci-fi adventure (director David Green and screenwriter Henry Gayden’s first feature) thanks to the shot-by-kids-for-kids-style of storytelling.
As one can expect from a movie catering to the “if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen” generation, it’s very fast-paced (and a bit too shaky at times), which doesn’t allow for much character development or epic plot building.
That said, Earth to Echo is a fun enough distraction for families to pencil in for Fourth of July weekend. In a nutshell, it’s about inseparable pals Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley of X-Factor fame) and Munch (Reese Hartwig), who embark on a scavenger hunt after receiving strange signals on their smartphones days before their neighborhood becomes the casualty of a supposed highway construction project. They quickly uncover a baby owl-looking alien (really?!), which they name Echo because it mimics sounds the trio of teens make on top of being able to participate in a game of Yes or No to give them clues about how to help the extraterrestrial cutie get back home. The wild ride is “filmed” by Tuck, who naturally has his own YouTube channel.
There are moments of overacting from Halm and Bradley, and the female character (Emma played by Ella Wahlestedt) seemed totally unnecessary. But Hartwig shines in his role as the overly cautious eccentric. Whereas he was a nervous wreck upon encountering Echo, he later boldly and hilariously jumps into the back of a truck (very ninja-like!) belonging to personnel who takes their little friend away. Hartwig is also the source of another memorable, funny scene: the prepubescent kid, who admittedly sounds like a girl on the phone, is tasked with pretending to be his mom and reassuring the other parents that he and the boys are sleeping over whomever’s house so that they can continue on with their last hurrah before they’re forced to move away from each other.
Overall, Earth to Echo won’t blow you away, but today’s techy youth will enjoy it, and parents can look forward to a few hearty, wholesome laughs in the AC.
— Danielle Datu (UrbanBridgez.com Writer/Reporter)
Check out our UB Interview with the films star Astro!