In ‘Earth to Echo,’ hearing echoes of ‘E.T.’

July 2, 2014 11:24 AM

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“E.T.” is a film that succeeds on so many levels that it’s easy to understand how it became a phenomenon. It works as an ode to unlikely emotional connection and the purity of youthful friendship. It works as iconic science fiction, despite the various technical limitations Steven Spielberg was up against. It works as a lived-in study of single-parent family life. It works as a magically heightened portrait of western suburbia. It works so well that Neil Diamond was moved to song.

From its quaint trailers to its illuminated-finger poster image, the family sci-fi adventure “Earth to Echo” feels designed to, yes, echo Spielberg’s achievement — deliberately and, you’d guess, maybe cynically. Either way, you quickly glimpse what first-time director Dave Green is attempting, and y...

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