Family fun: Earth to Echo, heavily influenced by the classic E.T., is now showing at the Liberty Theatre. *Photo supplied
Family fun: Earth to Echo, heavily influenced by the classic E.T., is now showing at the Liberty Theatre. *Photo supplied

Liberty Theatre

Earth to Echo

***

Stars: Reese Hartwig, Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Ella Wahlestedt.

Director: Dave Green

Rated: PG

Showing: Fri-Sat 1pm, 3:30pm, 6pm; Sun 2:30pm, 5:30pm; Mon-Thurs 1pm, 3:30pm, 6pm.

Runtime: 89 minutes

Adventure, family, sci-fi.

Earth to Echo is an engagingly unassuming E.T. knockoff, a kids’ movie that serves up a similar alien-with-kids story in Blair Witch/Paranormal shaky cam package.

It’s been more than 30 years since E.T. the Extraterrestrial, so why not?

Disney produced it, but then sold it to Relativity. Cast with cute, likable kids, given a few decent effects and having that found-footage “reality” of The Blair Witch Project, it doesn’t have the financial or emotional heft of the mythic “phone home” tale. But it works well enough. The plot elements swiped from E.T. are many, but are given tiny twists that rule out plagiarism charges. Earth to Echo has lots of blown opportunities, but developing any single stop on the kids’ night-long adventure would have added minutes to its lean, 91-minute run-time. 

Neptune Theatre

How To Train Your Dragon 2

****

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler.

Director: Dean DeBlois

Rated: PG

Showing: Fri 2:30pm, 7:30pm; Sat 4pm, 7:30pm; Sun 2:30pm, 6pm; Mon-Thurs 7pm.

Runtime: 102 minutes

Animation, action,
adventure.

The sequel to Dreamworks Animation’s successful 2010 run of How To Train Your Dragon expands on the emotions of the coming-of-age tale of a boy and his dragon. We return to the Isle of Berk five years after Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) showed the Vikings dragons were not evil creatures.

Speciality Theatre

Transformers: Age of Extinction

**

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor.

Director: Michael Bay

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat 2:30 (3D),  6pm (3D), 9:15 (2D); Sun 2:15pm (3D), 6pm (3D), 9:15pm (2D); Mon-Thurs 2:30pm (3D), 6pm (3D), 9:15pm (2D).

Runtime: 165 minutes

Action/comedy/sci-fi

The special effects are sharper, less blurred, and the robots far more defined in Transformers: Age of Extinction. Four films into this series and the giant-thinking, wise-cracking, lecturing alien robots have a look that finally suggests weight and metallic wear and tear.

Stanley Tucci and T.J. Miller come in as human comical relief, and John Goodman and Ken Watanabe provide new voices, sometimes used for comedy, as new Autobots. And if Age of Extinction makes you feel dumber just for having watched it, well, that’s the price of popcorn these days. If it keeps Michael Bay out of trouble for years at a time (this is the start of a new trilogy), we’ll just grit our teeth and bear it. 

Think Like a Man Too

**

Stars: Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Dennis Haysbert.

Director: Tim Story.

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat 2:45pm, 6:15pm, 9:30pm; Sun 2:30pm, 6:15pm, 9:30pm; Mon-Thurs 2:45pm, 6:15pm, 9:30pm.

Runtime: 106 minutes

Comedy.

Sequels, as 22 Jump Street joked, are always “the same, only worse”.

So any pretense of insight into the battle of the sexes and any real connection to stand-up comic turned self-appointed relationships expert Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, is long forgotten in Think Like a Man Too, the sequel to the surprise hit of two springs back. 

Kevin Hart has become the break-out star of this ensemble, so Too is basically a star vehicle for the Manic Little Man — with Las Vegas as the playground for this Bridesmaids meets The Hangover movie. 

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