I went to see Earth to Echo the other night. I’m accustomed to seeing a long line of previews before the feature film starts. One sequence I was pulled into. Boys of about 13 were video recording interviews of themselves. A shy boy told of how he had few friends. He said a road was going to be built over the only place where he had friends.
Another boy was identified as a foster child. He had been moved from home to home. He would not face the camera for the interview. Another boy narrated while the foster boy, Alex, faced away.
At this point I realized I was actually watching the feature presentation. Echo to Earth is a modernized retelling of the Spielberg classic ET. A sinister earth organization has shot down a spaceship. Three boys find a wounded alien, called Echo, who was on the ship. With a girl joining them, they help the alien rebuild his ship and return to his native planet.
Some of the story telling is not well handled. We do not know the exact business of the organization that shot down the alien ship. We do not learn why they have gone to this specific area of Nevada, although they are pretending to build a road through a neighborhood. We do not see at the film’s climax this organization’s attempt the alien ship from taking off.
The movie is best in its highly individualized young characters, helped by excellent acting. Movies in many ways reflect their times. The family in ET, made in the early 1980’s, has been damaged by divorce. But the children in the new movie are so much needier and more insecure than those of thirty years ago.
Children are now a lower social priority than they were even at the time of ET.