Plot: What’s it about?
Being a child of the 80’s, there are films that have, do and always will stand out to me. I can remember the first time I saw E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and The Goonies. Timeless classics that still pack a punch and are just as enjoyable now as they were then. Many consider E.T. to be Spielberg’s best work and this is a Director who has a few Oscars under his belt as well as some other films that have certainly stood the test of time. And then you’ve got The Goonies, a film that’s not quite as highly-praised as E.T., but it’s got a cult following for sure. Having said that, it’s hard to take a “kids” movie these days and not draw at least some parallel. However, with Earth to Echo, there are so many “tips of the hat” to the films that inspired it, I’m not sure if it’s flattery or just an outright insult. Nevertheless, three decades have passed since the Spielberg and Zebecks classics, so let’s see what the new generation has in store with their “alien” films.
Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley) and Munch (Reese Hartwig) are the best of friends living in the suburbs of Las Vegas. However this is their last night together as a new freeway is being built and their homes are in the path. Hence, they’ve got to move and start their lives elsewhere. However, their cell phones are displaying odd images that strangely resemble a map of some sort. The trio decide to pursue these maps, lie to their oblivious parents and set off into the desert. There they find Echo (a name they gave the alien), an all-too cute robot that’s looking for a way home. Echo communicates through a series of beeps and clicks and the trio continue to follow the clues he leaves them. Of course it’s not that easy and the U.S. Government also has knowledge of these maps and will stop at nothing to get them. Will the guys be able to get what they need to send Echo home or is he destined for a life on Earth?
This is what happens when you judge a book by its cover, folks. I’d seen the press release for the film, seen posters and such, but had never actually watched the trailer for the film. Based on the cover art, I’d assumed it was a CGI film and figured I’d give it a try. Whoops. I felt a bit out of place watching the movie and while not bad, it’s certainly no E.T. or The Goonies (throw in Super 8 and Flight of the Navigator for good measure). I realize that the film is aimed at kids and that kids have only heard of these films that I mention in passing. That’s fine. Still, as I mentioned before – there are so many obvious references to the films that inspired this, it seems like a slap in the face. Still, it’s not a bad film – just unoriginal.
Video: How’s it look?
Earth to Echo is shown in what can only be described as a “found footage” style. The film is told through the camera of Tuck, who narrates his way with video camera in tow. That said, the 1.78:1 AVC HD image is certainly indicative of a new to Blu-ray film. However, it’s kind of hard to classify this genre as the images are intentionally manipulated during a majority of scenes. Flesh tones look warm and natural, detail is top notch and the movie has an overall clarity to it. Considering the market this film is aimed at, I doubt the kids will have any complaints about the way this looks.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This is a pretty standard DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Vocals take front and center with surrounds chiming in from time to time (when Echo flies, it’s a pretty cool effect). There really isn’t many scenes that require a wealth of dynamic audio save for the ending sequence. The film exhibits a nice, clean sound stage with the front getting most of the action. Again, this isn’t targeted as an A/V powerhouse type of film and it’s not – it serves its purpose.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This two disc Blu-ray/DVD combo isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with supplements, but there are a few added extras on the Blu-ray.
- Friends No Matter How Far – A short feature that’s a bit cheesy focusing on the cast and the general theme of the film.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Creating the Truck Scene – There’s a scene in the film in which the kids are driving a car and literally drive through a truck (which is deconstructed piece by piece as they progress through it) and this short segment shows some of the CGI work that made that happen.
- Casting the Characters – We get a look at the casting process, who filled the right needs for their character and so forth. I’d never heard of any of these actors before, then again I don’t watch the Disney channel so maybe that explains it.
- “We Made That!” The Making of Earth to Echo – Don’t let the title fool you – this is a short EPK with the standard faire of some cast and crew interviews, the general overview of the plot and some behind the scenes footage.
- Deleted Scenes – Six total, though none really add to the film at all.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy