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‘Earth to Echo’ has an overly familiar feel

"Earth to Echo"
“Earth to Echo”

Ian Soltes is a 25-year-old Norwalk resident and former Norwalk Community College student. He writes game reviews for an online review site, Darkstation, and has written more than 50 reviews for Gamefaqs. 

NORWALK, Conn. – “Earth to Echo” is, in no uncertain terms, “E.T.”

Seriously, that’s all there is to the movie. This is not inspired by “E.T.”, this is practically from the script of “E.T.” Even the movie initials point this out, as it’s E.T.E (“Earth to Echo”).

But I digress. Let’s start from the beginning. E.T.E. is a story about a small group of kids living in a suburban area that is about to be bulldozed to build a new highway. On the final day before they are forced to move out, shattering their friendship forever, something weird happens. A bunch of their smart phones start to go haywire and a map starts to appear on them. Realizing that this may, very well, be their last night together, the group decides to spend it following the map in the hopes of stumbling upon an adventure as their final hurrah.

When they follow the map, though, they end up finding a downed pod from space with a small mechanical being inside that they call Echo. Echo is lost, stranded upon Earth and wants to get back home, but he needs several parts for his ship to do so. The group sets out to try and help Echo rebuild his ship, while fleeing from a shadowy group that wants Echo for unclear reasons.

Despite having taken its plot from “E.T.,” the plot suffers a sizable number of plot holes; for example, the various “parts” of Echo’s ship. Throughout the movie, Echo is providing the kids with maps that lead to the various pieces he will need to rebuild his ship, yet these parts don’t stand out in any unique way from the myriad other things that could be found. Why does Echo need a metal piece from inside an arcade as opposed to a bit of wire that could probably just be found in someone’s back yard or in a random car? I don’t know, as the movie never bothers to explain. How did Echo manage to locate these pieces on his own? How did Echo’s ship get under a suburban housing complex? Never explained.

That’s not to say that the plot is bad though, just full of holes. As it is taken from the script of “E.T.,” the strength of the source material does show its strength. There is a decent amount of mystery and intrigue that surrounds the plot (until you realize it’s “E.T.”), and the relationship between the various characters is believable and fairly decent, even if it isn’t the best around. However, that is mainly because the movie is shot in the “shaky camera” method that was popularized with “Cloverfield” and has become increasingly common in recent years.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds though, as, due to the way it’s cut and edited, it does seem like something a child would have shot if he was trying to film this sort of thing. To the credit of whomever was filming this movie, they realized that the “shaky cam” only works when it is steady enough that we can actually see what’s going on, which means that it actually works to be a fairly solid method of making the event seem real as opposed to an annoying contrivance that hides anything of real value in the shot behind panicky voices and shaky hands.

But – here’s the main problem – it’s “E.T.” How on earth can you describe a movie that’s “E.T.” with a fresh coat of paint without saying it’s “E.T.” with a fresh coat of paint? The plot and story flow is near identical, the premise is the same, and they even have their own variation of the famous “E.T.” bike-flying scene that serves the exact same purpose and is framed in the exact same manner as it was in “E.T.,” except that, this time, it’s Echo deconstructing and reconstructing a truck as opposed to flight.

As an adult, while I’m not sorry that I saw this kid’s movie, I see no reason to see it unless you desire to introduce your children/grandchildren who refuse to watch anything that isn’t modern to “E.T.” It’s the exact same plot, exact same feel, exact same everything just with a modern coat of paint. If you really want to see “E.T.E.” just watch the original.

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