A Spielbergian (assembled from parts of Poltergeist, The Goonies, and ET) adventure flick targeted at tweens who tweet, Earth to Echo uses the found-footage style (every adolescent here is wearing or holding a camera or cameraphone) for an intermittently interesting tale about three kids who find an alien, learn how deep their friendship really runs, and discover that technology is even more really, really awesome and cool than any of us earthlings ever thought.
Suburban Nevada buddies Tuck (Astro), Alex (Teo Halm), and “Munch” (Reese Hartwig), on their last night together before an apparent freeway expansion project forces them and the neighbourhood to relocate, track down the reason for their garbled smartphone screens. It’s a little metal thingy—apparently alien—with nice big cutesy eyes, all the better for emoting with. They help “Echo” track down the scattered parts of its body, reassembling them so it can make its newly whole way back to its spacecraft and return home.
Earth to Echo stutters at times from the genre’s annoyances and implausibilities of so many cameras happening to catch so many great shots at all times, not to mention catching some stiff acting here and there. Still, there’s some of the energy and excitement of three friends—complicated, though not enough, by a girl, Emma, (Ella Wahlestedt) joining them—on a breathless ride into the unknown together, one last time.
And if that last sentence sounded a bit like an Apple ad, there’s the biggest influence on Earth to Echo. Long after their spy glasses, bike cams, Internet searches, YouTube uploads, online chats and phone-tracking, the three amigos keep goggling, gawking, and gawping at Echo, this coolest new gizmo of all. “Awesome” and “cool” reverberate often. At full power, this metal alien can disassemble and reassemble any machine. So, when the last shot of the friends seems straight out of the latest iPhone ad, it’s no coincidence—this is the post-9/11 generation’s coming-of-age flick, a paean to technological coolness. It’s Stand By Me meets techno-salvation—when the aliens come, they’ll be hard-wired to beep and ringtone their Likes to us so we’ll feel, for sure, oh yeah, gotta be, all this high-tech keeps us so connected and friend-ful.