Earth to Echo (PG) - 'a headache-inducing ordeal'
Judging by its trailer, Earth to Echo looks like a pretty standard sci-fi adventure for pre-teens. However, as we all know the folk who design these teasers in order to get the punters into cineplexes are devious divils at the best of times.
For example, who can forget that the lads who edited together the promo clip for Sweeney Todd in such a way that it resembled a gothic horror conveniently omitted any reference to the fact that it was a sung-through musical with hardly any conventional dialogue? Naughty.
In this case we do indeed have a group of young teenagers who do take to their bikes on an adventure, who do discover a mysterious alien creature and, yes, there is a spectacular scene involving a big spaceship.
However, what they didn't let slip is the fact that Earth to Echo is the latest example of a 'found footage' film.
Imagine Cloverfield filmed and edited by a 14-year-old filled to the gills with high-energy drinks and you've only begun the imagine the hyperactivity which awaits you over the course of these 90-odd minutes.
Honestly, for much of its running-time, Earth to Echo is practically unwatchable, which is a pity as there's rather decent, if entirely unoriginal, film lurking beneath the relentless barrage of shaky footage and rapid cuts.
The story involves three teenage friends, Alex, Tuck, and Munch (Teo Halm, Brian 'Astro' Bradley and Reese Hartwig), who live in a Nevada suburb which is about to be demolished to make way for a freeway.
However, the day before they're due to move they receive mysterious signals on their mobile phones, try to piece the clues together and, of course, film themselves every step of the way.
Taking to their bikes they head to the desert to discover an owl-like alien creature which needs to get home but, as is the way with such things, sinister government types are after it too.
Essentially a mash-up of ET, The Goonies, Chronicle, Close ENcounters and Stand By Me, Earth to Echo has decent performances from the three leads, plus a fine turn from Ella Wahlstead as Emma, a girl who inveigles her way into the group, and one truly spectacular set-piece but as a whole it's a headache-inducing ordeal which might, hopefully, put an end to 'found footage' as a sub-genre. We can but pray.