The mildewed found-footage technique allows some tension to build from offscreen action, but also renders the knockoff John Williams score inexplicable.
You can imagine ET phoning his legal team, but although this kids' sci-fi adventure is derivative, its characters are drawn with more care and insight than you'd expect.
If the movie is a waste, at least it's an instructive one, signaling just how offensive children's entertainment might become in the YouTube era.
Combining some classic plot movements and plenty of modern trappings (just, like, a lot of cell phones), Earth to Echo is a sweet family film that has something for everyone.
Unlike the very successful Spanish horror thriller [Rec] or even the nausea-inducing Cloverfield, which Echo more closely resembles, this film doesn't maintain a consistent point of view or any logic about what's on screen.
With authentic characters, dialogue and settings, Echo's filmmakers have successfully created a story younger kids and pre-teens growing up in a Millennial and post-Millennial culture can relate to.
Spielberg's E.T., so ugly it was cute, was also full of personality. Echo is adorable and forgettable, and the rest of the characters are simply plot holders in a narrative contraption that generates jeopardy-raising obstacles to Echo going home.
...Whatever it takes to endow ordinary youngster stuff...with enough magic and meaning to make the Kids of Today believe that they can in fact, as the film puts it, 'do anything.'
Savvily, and perhaps cynically, seeks to be the first to surf what I fear will be the new cinematic language: automatic Google Glass.