Earth to Echo  (2014)    57/100

Rating :   57/100                                                                       91 Min        PG

The handheld genre finds its way into the family film market here, with very similar results to previous experiments with it: contrivances to always have multiple cameras on the go (bizarrely including a hidden camera in one of the kid’s specs, which seems like a particularly nifty bit of kit for them to have access to) and fairly irritating central performances as they constantly try to sound excited, telling us we should be too. The plot has us following three young boys (played by Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig and X-Factor contestant Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley) around on their bikes as they trace a mysterious map that has appeared on their phones – a map which leads to the discovery of a small alien, Echo, that they will try to help collect the fragmented bits of his spacecraft so he (or she I suppose, its sexual organs are not noticeably examined) can go home before some evil ADULTS find it, play football with it and dismember it.

Echo has no real personality, it essentially looks really cute and can beep once for yes and twice for no, and that’s it, so the focus is on the adventure of the kids with at least an attempt to explore the strength of the bond between them, but mainly just watching them track down things and trying to avoid capture, with the very typical fantasy of the hot uptight girl from school (Ella Wahlestedt) somehow getting involved and coming along with them . For kids around the age of the main characters (fourteen?) it might be quite good, but for anyone else it’s a far cry from E.T. (82). One of them learns to drive a car in, literally, ten seconds. That’s the sort of level of production and believability you’re looking at here.

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