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Earth to Echo

Entry updated 2 July 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (2014). Relativity Media presents a Panay Films production. Directed by Dave Green. Written by Henry Gayden and Andrew Panay. Cast includes Brian Bradley, Jason Gray-Stanford, Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig and Ella Wahlestedt. 91 minutes. Colour.

Three Children discover an activation device for a Spaceship buried beneath the town in which they live.

"I think mannequins are hot."

School-friends Alex Nichols (Halm), Reginald Barrett (Hartwig) and Tucker Simms (Bradley) are, like Arthur Dent at the beginning of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, disgruntled that their home town must make way for a new freeway; Simms begins to record their last week together in Mulberry Woods, Nevada, on camera. Mysterious directions on their mobile phones (see Communications) lead them out into the desert where they find a small, owl-shaped Machine with some of the attributes of an Alien or Robot but little indication of the consciousness of either, which leads them in turn to a barn where the device begins to reassemble itself, displaying an ability to magnetize its missing parts through the air in a manner similar to Telekinesis. The boys begin to communicate with the device through simple yes-no one-beep two-beep questions and answers, naming it "Echo", before collecting more pieces of its advanced Technology at a pawn shop, the house of a classmate (Wahlestedt), a biker-bar, an amusement arcade, a gas station and a diner, where they run into a Scientist (Gray-Stanford) posing as a construction worker – who reveals that he and his colleagues are, in fact, evacuating Mulberry Woods due to there being pieces of an Extraterrestrial craft buried Underground.

Jettisoned after completion by Walt Disney Studios in 2013 for being too niche, and thereafter reworked by Relativity Media, Earth to Echo wears its many references a little too clearly on its sleeve. A plethora of visual quotations from Clash of the Titans (1981), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and The Goonies (1985), not to mention several other films made by Steven Spielberg, give the film a second-hand air despite attempts to freshen its register with Found Footage. The film is good-natured and well-made but lacks the visual ingenuity and sentiment of Spielberg's best films for the family market. [MD]

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