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Earth to Echo


Stars: Teo Halm, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Reese Hartwig, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford, Alga Smith

Director: Dave Green

Three youngsters from a standard sanitized-by-Spielberg suburb set out into the desert for one last adventure before a highway project destroys their neighbourhood.

And their mission?

To find the source of the mysterious messages the teenagers have been receiving on their cellphones (“My phone barfed!”) and try to forget their impending parting. We get to follow their adventures since, like so many youngsters these days, the trio are armed with video cameras and phones that photograph, resulting in a now almost cliched 'found-footage' approach.

Then, when they find the cute little stranded alien who has been contacting them, the lively lads come to his rescue…

Producer Andrew Panay admits his ‘save-the-alien’ storyline was triggered by memories of E.T. which, when I first saw it all those years ago, triggered memories of Disney’s patently grounded save-the-animal charmer Old Yeller.

Here, happily, screenwriter Henry Gayden and director Dave Green avoid the supersaturated-saccharine-sentimentality of Spielberg’s film in favour of an engaging story, well told and attractively acted by the three young protagonists Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley and Reese Hartwig, whose natural performances are a major asset to a pleasing family film decorated with good to-the-purpose special effects, notably at the climax - and which should not prove a burden to accompanying adults.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Technicolor.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 Jul 2014