Damon Smith gives his verdict on this week's big release, Earth To Echo.
IN 1982, ET phoned home and now another stranded extra-terrestrial requires assistance from pint-sized heroes to safely return to the stars in Dave Green's family-oriented adventure.
Earth To Echo begs obvious similarities to Steven Spielberg's classic story and the 1987 fantasy *Batteries Not Included.
Green's special effects-laden picture lacks the emotional wallop of the former and the charm of the latter but does tread a familiar path through fresh eyes by employing the found footage format.
Characters address an omnipresent video camera, verbalising their excitement and fear as a night-time bicycle ride into the desert becomes a rescue mission of galactic proportions.
"What you're about to see is what happened to me and my friends one year ago," explains Tuck (Brian "Astro" Bradley).
In fragmented footage, we meet Tuck's best friends Alex (Teo Halm) and Reginald aka Munch (Reese Hartwig) after they learn a project to build a highway will tear apart their community and they will have to find new homes.
On their last night together, the boys follow strange signals on their mobile phones into the desert. They uncover a stranded friendly robot and the boys pledge to help Echo locate the missing parts of his spaceship.
Plucky classmate Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) joins the trio as they evade shady government officials, who are also hunting Echo.
Earth To Echo is a state-of-the-art ode to ET and its imitators that ups the technical ante for a generation that prefers to swipe at tablets and smart phones rather than go outside and play.
SHOWING AT: Showcase, Cinema De Lux and Odeon, Derby; Cineworld Burton and Odeon Swadlincote.