If you see ‘Earth to Echo,’ make sure to take a barf bag.

by Trey Hock on July 3, 2014

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rock Fist Way Down]

Consider this review a public service announcement.

Do not go and see Earth to Echo.

Now many of you reading this will consider this request hyperbolic, perhaps it is just an overstated reaction to a below average film, but I warn you, director Dave Green’s feature film will cause actual bodily harm.

The film’s editing, cinematography and camera movements are so frenetic and disorienting that most in the audience, myself included, had to look away from the screen in order to calm their motion sickness and not become violently ill. Towards the end of the film, there was even a child a few rows back coughing and retching. I think their concerned parent calmed them before the end of the pie eating contest from Stand by Me could play out, but still.

I would like to point out that I am not particularly sensitive to discomfort with shaky camera movements. Films like The Blair Witch Project or the myriad films that employ “found’ footage do not bother me.

So what motivates Earth to Echo’s shaky camera and why is it so troubling?

There are two or three reasons. The camera is mainly first person. Our narrator and main character, Tuck (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley), is something of a videophile. He collects footage from his adventures with friends Alex (Teo Halm) and Munch (Reese Hartwig). The entire film, except for some motion graphic cutaways, is shot as if they are form Tuck’s camera.

This technique has been applied before, but here there is never a pause in the hands-on movement. Even scenes that could give our eyes and stomachs a rest constantly shift and move. In a diner scene, the camera bounces constantly from table to the various faces that surround Tuck.

The motion graphics cutaways are huge sweeping overhead shots of the terrain in the American Southwest. They are intended to show the quick progression of Tuck, Munch and Alex as the three travel on their final adventure together. These animated sequences only work to maintain the motion discomfort that the moving live action shots achieve in the viewer.

Alright, I’m sure you get it. The camera work and editing sucks and made people sick, but was the story worth it?

The short answer is no.

Earth to Echo follows the three friends as they hangout on the last night before their housing development is torn down to make room for a new interstate. As they wander through the night, following a strange electrical disturbance, they stumble upon a lost alien, which they name Echo. The boys take it upon themselves to help the alien and maybe even save their neighborhood.

Sound like The Goonies, E.T., Super 8, My Science Project, or Explorers?

That is because Earth to Echo is a mediocre amalgamation of the 80’s science fiction adventure story. The acting from our main cast is fine, but the script that they must bring to life is dead on arrival.

There is a reason that Disney walked away from this project after its completion. It’s awful. Even if it didn’t make the viewer feel as though they were on a badly synchronized virtual ride, the film would be a sad shadow of better films.

Just leave this one be. Consider it Mac and Me, but with nausea.

In addition to contributing to Scene-Stealers, Trey makes short films and teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute. Follow him here:

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nancy July 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I’m in total agreement. NOT WORTH IT. My 11 year old and I both wanted to barf 1/2 way thru Echo. This sick feeling never let up through to the end – and ruined our day.

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2 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

Sorry to hear that, Nancy. My wife and I felt the same way.

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3 wooden bedside tables July 5, 2014 at 11:52 am

Having read this I thought it was extremely informative.
I appreciate you taking the time and effort
to put this content together. I once again find myself spending
a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what,
it was still worth it!

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4 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

Why thank you. And thanks for the comment.

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5 Ken Seachrist July 7, 2014 at 7:38 am

My wife and I watched this from closer to the front of small theater with stadium style seating. She got very ill about 3/4 of the way through the movie and was just hoping to get home before retching all over the place! I can understand the idea of wanting a movie to have that “home movie” feel, but they needed to make the movement a little less frenetic and jerky! Other than the obvious “E.T.” upgrade, this was not a bad story, just VERY bad camera work.

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6 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

Ken, you are nicer to the story than I was, but we’re are both in agreement on the camera work. Thanks for the comment.

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7 leah July 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I just went to see the film and the camera work was not good. I know that it’s the style of the film but they didn’t do it well. The storyline is just like ET and Super 8 and not well developed or worth watching. There were only four people in the cinema when I went to see it and now I know why. I threw up at the end because the motion and constant effects were too much. It is not worth seeing at all.

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8 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

Jeez. I didn’t vomit, but I can sympathize. Sorry you had to go through that, but thank you for the comment.

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9 Movie Buff Dave July 7, 2014 at 10:21 pm

My Science Project? How did it have anything to do with that movie? I didn’t think Earth To Echo was horrible. Mediocre and unoriginal? Yes, but not exactly horrible.

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10 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

Kids who find alien tech that might save the day? I think there are at least surface parallels to My Science Project, but point taken.

Yeah the story was just mediocre, but the camera work and editing was shameful. Two people in the comment section alone vomited because of Earth to Echo. I’m sticking with horrible.

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11 Stephanie T July 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I took my two boys to see this movie, and got totally sick. I threw up in the movie trash can, it was embarrassing. After I got home, I started feeling better…I want my money back!!!

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12 Trey Hock July 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

Stephanie, I want your money back too!

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13 Rachel July 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Oh how I wish I had read this before wasting $$ for me and my kids to see this movie. We walked out of the movie (before the end) about 4 hours ago and am just now starting to feel better. I feel like it should come with a warning. Blech.

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14 Trey Hock July 12, 2014 at 11:59 am

Rachel, yeah it should have one of those signs that are posted at the entrance to roller coasters. If you’re pregnant, have epilepsy, a heart condition. . .

Sorry I didn’t get to you soon enough, and thanks for the comment.

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15 SA July 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm

I saw Earth to Echo tonight with my husband, daughter and my daughters friend. I kept having to look away from the screen and made it about 1/2 hour before I and had to leave to throw up.

Everyone else in my group was fine and enjoyed the entire movie.

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16 Trey Hock July 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

SA, I think that depending on where you’re sitting in the theater and your sensitivity to visual motion it may or may not bother you. I was in your camp. I didn’t throw up, but it bothered me.

Thanks for the comment.

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17 DL July 13, 2014 at 4:10 am

I totally agree that the camera was unnecessarily shaky. I’ve never had to walk out of a theater before but this movie made me feel so ill that I had to leave after 30 min to go to the washroom. The aftermath was that I went home to throw up and had to skip dinner altogether. I took two Gravol and after 4 hours I think I’ve recovered. Wish I had known before getting the movie ticket as I’ve seen the trailer several times and didn’t expect it to be so shaky! Anyway, my night was ruined because of the movie and had to cancel on a dinner gathering, urrghh!

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18 Trey Hock July 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

Wow DL,

A cancelled dinner party!? Maybe Earth to Echo should be employed as a hazing tool.

Thanks for the comment.

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19 CB July 13, 2014 at 8:27 am

I watched it last night with two kids and I had to leave the theater twice so I would not toss my cookies. The way it was filmed is awful and forget a storyline it was one load noise after another.

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20 Trey Hock July 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

CB,

I only needed to look away, but yeah the sound mix was too loud also. Thanks for the comment.

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21 Jenny July 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm

My friend, my brother and his two friends, my classmate and her sister and her friend, and me all watched this movie. (Wow right?) The camera was shaking too much, and I thought, maybe it’s just for the prologue. But 1/2 through the movie i didn’t get sick but I could not concentrate. We all couldn’t. My friend was really sick and she couldn’t even finish 1/10 of her coke. I hated this movie…

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22 Trey Hock July 15, 2014 at 9:33 am

Jenny,

At least you were surrounded by friends and family, right?

Thanks for the comment.

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23 Kami t July 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I saw the move today and it made me sick. I had motion sickness and thought I was going to have to leave to go to the restroom to throw up, it was that bad. I had to close my eyes throughout the movie just to get through it. Came straight home and layed down, four hours later still don’t feel good. Do not recommend this movie, had no idea this would happen.

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24 Trey Hock July 15, 2014 at 9:34 am

Kami,

Hope you’re feeling better today! At least we’re not alone. It seems that this film made a lot of people feel ill.

Thanks for the comment.

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25 Gretchen July 14, 2014 at 9:55 pm

My official review is not much different:

I was sick within the first 10 minutes.

My husband left the theater about 30 minutes in and threw up in the parking lot.

My 10 year old had to be carried out after an hour and just made it to the trash can in the hallway.

My mother made it all the way through, but almost passed out in the process.

My 6 year old thought he was fine, but got sick after we got home.

My 14 year old is fine and doesn’t understand what the heck just happened to everyone.

There is no reason whatsoever for this kind of film style… Especially without ample warning.

There goes $50….

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26 Trey Hock July 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

Gretchen,

Let me see if I’ve got this. Sick, vomit, vomit, passed out, sick, okay. That’s a 5 in 6 chance of illness or discomfort. I don’t like those odds, but thank you for the comment.

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27 Ben July 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

My son wanted to see this movie so we went to go check it out, wow what a pile of junk, waste of money i was more sick than when i used to ride in the M113 APC in Iraq, not just puke sick brain sick the flashing was worse than cheap anime,no story crappy plot, but my son loved it so i will live ….. i guess

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28 Trey Hock July 26, 2014 at 6:17 am

Ben,

So are you saying that ‘Earth to Echo’ was worse than your time in Iraq!? Thanks for the comment.

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29 Karla July 25, 2014 at 11:18 am

I wish I had read this review before I took my ten year old son to the movie – I was really sick too. I love roller coasters, fast moving objects and I have never been sick in a movie before this one. I cannot describe the feeling but I couldn’t finish watching the movie. I kept my head down and/or watched by son to make sure he was OK. He enjoyed the film (he had nothing to compare it to & loved the characters). I loved ET and the Goonies – hard to compare the movies. Anyway – I wish the film had a warning label for some of us…. Thank you for helping not feel alone & like I am getting old!

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30 Trey Hock July 26, 2014 at 6:19 am

Karla,

You’re not alone by a long shot. Thanks for you comment.

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31 Richard July 26, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Took my daughter out to see this movie and we both got sick. I had to wait for half hour to drive out the parking lot. I don’t get sea sick or have problems with motion sickness.
The story line is not a winner either.
This movie is NOT WORTH seeing.

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32 Trey Hock July 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

Richard,

I’m not a motion-sick sensitive person either. I agree that driving afterward took a lot of thought and focus. Thanks for the comment.

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33 Lou July 30, 2014 at 10:27 am

Wish I’d known about this before we went to watch it, glad I’m not the only one! I’m now sitting in my car with my children and Mum still inside watching the movie, although not sure how much longer my Mum will be able to cope! It should come with a warning! Feel sick and dizzy. What a waste of money and crazy idea for a whole film to be made this way.

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34 Trey Hock August 1, 2014 at 10:08 am

Lou,

Love the play by play. Sorry for the illness. I did try to warn people off, but managed to miss a few. Perhaps my review will be posted on the back of the DVD/Blu-ray case?

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35 Lou July 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

Update.. My 7 year old is now out of the film after being sick. We have even given free tickets for next time . 11 year old still enjoying it and my Mum sitting with eyes closed until it’s finished!

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36 Trey Hock August 1, 2014 at 10:09 am

Not sure it’s worth the free tickets. At least the 11-year-old had fun, right?

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37 Mike August 11, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Wish I’d read the review first – just went to see this today and both me and my 11 year old felt ill. Spent last 40 mins trying not to chunder! I thought the story was actually OK but was spoiled by the relentless shaky POV camera work.

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38 Trey Hock August 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

Mike,

Sorry to hear that. Chunder? Are you from Australia? If so, when Earth to Echo makes you vomit, does it swirl the other way when you flush it? Know that you are not alone and thanks for the comment, wherever you hail from.

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39 Brian Currier August 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

All you people are making earth to echo seem like it’s just made to make you feel queasy!! I saw the movie myself and I admit it was bad camerawork , but seriously, I didn’t puke or feel nauseas at all! I thought it was a great movie and they wanted to seem like a kid filmed the movie on his phone/camera, and you know kids, they aren’t as good as adults when they film movies/videos. Over all, I think the movie was good and that I give it 2 to 3 stars ( that’s just my opinion. )

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40 Trey Hock September 5, 2014 at 8:06 am

Brian,

Thanks for the comment. I don’t think that the creators of Earth to Echo made the film just to make people queasy. As someone who is not as sensitive to visual motion in movies, I was surprised that it bothered me at all. I understand that they wanted to make it feel like the kids were filming it and they could have achieved that sense without the level of shakiness that they employed. I know that some people wouldn’t necessarily be bothered, but you must admit just from the comments here, that it’s a movie that has the tendency to make people feel ill. Glad you enjoyed it.

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41 Karen White August 26, 2014 at 7:50 am

I’m from Australia and I actually saw this movie in Canada when we were there a few months ago. My son and I absolutely loved it and didn’t feel sick at all. Nor was anyone else in the theatre. So dissapointed that it only showed in Australia at Hoyts NSW for a week and won’t be coming back. According to Hoyts head office, they are not going to be showing it at any other theatre, even though google reckons it will be out here in October.

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42 Trey Hock September 5, 2014 at 8:08 am

Karen,

You do seem to be in the minority, but I’m glad you enjoyed it. Maybe you and your son just have a stronger tolerance for shaky camera work than most. Thanks for the comment.

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43 Polly August 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

OMG! I thought my son was getting really sick. He went to see it with my daycare provider. She called me at work to say that they had to leave the movie early because he had projectile vomited 3 times in the theater lobby. He informed me later that he thought the movie was kind of shaky. Now I know….DO NOT GO! My son is 10. He does not have the flu. But he does suffer from motion sickness. Why on earth would you make a movie that does this??? Be warned!!!!!

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44 Trey Hock September 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

Polly,

Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the experience. At least your son wasn’t alone, and who knows, maybe he was excited for the sick day.

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45 Zik October 11, 2014 at 4:11 am

O_o

I was curious when I heard that my sister got motion sickness and my older brother felt sick after watching this movie…

At first, when I first saw the trailer, I thought it was awesome, but since you’ve mention that it a first person movie…I think I’ll shy away from movies like these. First person view movies, in general, sucks because it isn’t worth watching and it doesn’t really convey the whole story if it about something like an alien.

They need to take a lesson from Stephen Chow and his movie, CJ7, because that one was a mite better and it wasn’t strictly in first person view movie. I hope Hollywood doesn’t follow this trend, because if they do, we can finally label Hollywood as a special classes of disease and must be trimmed out. Either that or sue the studios responsible for causing mass effects that result in vomiting and/or motion sickness. Either that, or start watching Bollywood movies for entertainment.

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46 Crusader November 22, 2014 at 10:50 am

Some studio executive gave Dave Green $13,000,000 to make a movie. He must have deposited the money in his own account and took his video camera his dad gave him for his 10th birthday and made “Earth to Echo” on his pocket money he saved up in his piggy bank. This movie is a threat to human health!

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47 Leigh Z November 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Luckily I was at home trying to watch this movie. I have never had a movie make me so sick to my stomach – almost to where I have the shakes. I have made it through other movies like Blair Witch without any issues. I had to turn this off towards the end because I thought I was going to throw up. The movie was meh up till that point…poor dialogue and now very good acting. But for a movie to make me physically ill is bad.

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