Film Review: Earth to Echo (2014)

Also known as: Echo, Untitled Wolf Adventure (both working titles)
Release Date: June 14th, 2014 (Los Angeles Film Festival)
Directed by: Dave Green
Written by: Henry Gayden, Andrew Panay
Music by: Joseph Trapanese
Cast: Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese C. Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt

Panay Films, Walt Disney Pictures, Relativity Media, 89 Minutes


“I don’t really know how to say goodbye, so I’m not gonna. And um… um, you’re my friend you know, and when I’m old, even when you think I’ve forgotten, I’m always gonna be there.” – Alex

*Written in 2014.

Earth to Echo currently has a 5.7 on IMDb. I think it is a better film than that, maybe around 6.5. I get the criticisms people have though but I think some of that criticism comes from a lack of deeper film knowledge. Let me explain.

Let us start with the premise. The film follows three teen boys and later a girl that joins them, as they go on a quest to follow the map that they discovered. This is also their last adventure, as they are being forced to move out of their town. Already, this seems like it borrows heavily from The Goonies. It also involves finding a friendly alien, which expands the quest for the friends. Now they are on the run from government dudes and are trying desperately to get the alien back to his ship, so that he can go home. Now the film is borrowing a lot from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. The alien itself is small and robotic and is reminiscent of the aliens from the ’80s film *batteries not included. The movie is also shot in a found footage style, which gives it parallels to a lot of other films.

You see, the criticism of this film typically comes from those who are pointing out that it is ripping off one or all of these things. Some people even consider it a rip off of Super 8. Apparently those people aren’t aware that Super 8 is essentially, to use their words “a rip off” of E.T.

Who really gives a crap about all of this, though? When I was a kid in the 1980s, there were multiple “rip offs” of E.T., as well as several other films and successful properties. For every Transformers, there was a GoBots. For every Conan, there was a Beastmaster. For every Ghostbusters, there was, well.. Ghostbusters. For every Alien, there was every sci-fi/horror film for the next decade after it.

The real question is whether or not this was a good film? And did it employ the themes it borrowed in an effective way? I say “yes” to both.

This was obviously an homage to a lot of great films that had some sort of impact on the director and the writers. When I was a kid of the ’80s, enjoying the films that Earth to Echo is an homage to, I also wanted to be a filmmaker. At least the director Dave Green followed through on his dream and found a way to pay respect to his powerful influences.

Nothing about this film treats the inspirational source material poorly. It brings the elements and concepts together and becomes its own thing.

The child actors in this film were all pretty great and not annoying. Were they as lovable as the kids Spielberg rounded up for E.T. and The Goonies? Not necessarily but I could see them fitting in with those groups pretty easily. Reese Hartwig who played the character of Munch did an exceptional job for a young actor.

No, this is not a perfect or flawless movie. For a kids’ sci-fi picture about friendship and doing the right thing, it is pretty good. For a guy in his mid-30s, this also felt really nostalgic. And truthfully, I prefer it to the more popular Super 8.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: All of its influences mentioned above, as well as Super 8.