Earth to Echo gave me the opportunity to watch some of my favorite movies rolled into one, which got me excited, until I realized these elements are loosely tied together with no emotional support. The movie follows 3 kids (a fourth joins later on) following a map that their phone "barfed" up to find an alien that needs to get home after it's ship was shot down. Oh and they film their experience to share it with the world that would never believe them.
This movie takes it's idea from three children adventure movies. The found footage aspect comes from Super 8. The children find and befriend an alien and make it their business to get it back home is taken from E.T. Tie this adventure together with this happening on the last night these friends will see each other because their housing addition has been purchased by the government was lifted from Goonies. Three great child adventure films that can be revisited any time and still feel the same as it did when you were 12.
The elements of these three movies are great, but not when you just push them together to evoke nostalgia - and have no nostalgia. The plot of this movie starts with learning about these 3 friends and it somewhat assumes that you already knew them as it just shows them together. One is a foster kid, one is touted to be "different," and the other is the leader of the group. Due to them just jumping into these kids worrying about the map on the phone, the film disconnects us with the characters and gives us no emotional connection to any of them and makes it hard to cheer them on. These children turn out to be excellent criminals and can go undetected in a house where people are five feet away. The best element of this group comes halfway through when a girl that they go to school with (who's house they broke into) joins the group on their adventure. The alien isn't even the best part of the movie, it is actually pretty minimal in its appearances and actions.
The kids in the movie, other than Alex and Emma, were cast wrong in these roles as well. This helped disconnect me from the film and really care about these characters. There is a bit of romance element at the very end, but never builds or is noticed in the beginning. The interaction of the kids and the government is minimal and pretty much hatred - until the government decides "maybe these kids should help our agenda." This tension is rushed because it takes so long for the kids to find the alien and help build it's key.
Earth to Echo is a slow paced build up to an accelerator climax and an immediate final action. Instead of trying to be subtle in taking its ideas from classic adventure movies, it should have showcased them proudly. If you have children and plan on seeing this film, please show them E.T., Goonies, and Super 8 first so that they do not compare those movies to this one and they compare Earth to Echo to these films.
A matinee is a great time to see a film with minimal interruptions. Movies like this could have children in them that get loud and interrupt your viewing. Sit away from the crowd, zone in, and be alone in the theater.