In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.
An epic adventure set in the last Ice Age, Alpha is a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man's best friend. While on his first hunt with his tribe's most elite group, a young man is injured and must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. After the young man reluctantly tames a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learn to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives.
Howling to Exquisite Visuals and Bonds of Friendship. Yet, This Is A Lone Worth In Terms of Story
A movie about dogs is always a mixed bag... hey wait a minute, did I start this review last week like this? Robbie K here and bringing you another analysis of the latest film to grace the silver screen. While not a full dog movie, tonight's feature goes back in time to explore the origins of how we got man's best friend. What looks part survival film and part pet movie, led me to wonder what was in store, in hopes it would be the next epic film to break the box office. What lies in store? Robbie K here to give you another writing of opinions as I review:
Movie: Alpha (2018)
Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (screenplay by), Albert Hughes (story by)
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Varela
Quick Run Time: A movie about survival, especially with one human character, can be long and drawn out if not careful. Alpha keeps the film rolling, not taking too long of pauses as the journey transverses from one part of the frontier to the other. The entire span of the journey is just over 90 minutes and it does a nice job trying to cram everything into a nice concise package.
Impressive CGI: The movie is all about recreating the primal world of the wondering nomads, which involves a lot of imagination, design, and CGI to bring it to life. The movie gets props from me because they accomplished the recreation in a very detailed manner. First the environments and natural phenomena are dazzling, fun, and furious as the special effects combine to unleash the nightmares that disasters hold. Second the animals of the world are also nicely animated, from the rugged texture of the skin, to the fluid movement of their grazing, hunting, and fleeing. Sure, it hits moments where it crosses into the fake looking zone, but overall a nice display indeed.
Costumes: Tribal costumes require a lot of detail, coordination, and study to deliver the most accurate display of that part of history. Though I'm no historian, Alpha's tribesman have all the knick-knacks of the what a plains hunter would normally have that not only serves as a fashion statement, but holds the functionality that these ancient beings attempted to use. The lead's attire will get the most attention, but when combined as a tribe, each nuance of the costumes comes out a little more.
The Wolf: When the live animal is on screen, the wolf was the stealer of the scene. Cute eyes, the whimpering moans, and the wise gazes are certainly the opener for this pooch, but the action scenes that require training were impressive displays to say the least.
The Cinematography: Let's face it, the real selling pint though is the beautiful visuals of the film. Alpha's scenery is gorgeous to say the least, with vivid waterfalls, beautiful night skies, and desolate plains that harbor doom. Sunrise and sunsets are majestic as they promise the start and end of new days, and the colors are dazzling as they blend into a mosaic of fantastic sequences. Throw in the CGI and the world just gets more vivid, making for an impressive setting to become involved with.
Animal Torture: I know, times were tough back then and it was either be hunters or be dead. Still, I didn't like to see the suffering of animals in this film. Alpha does not go down the quick finishes, but tries to capture the full moment of a spear hunter taking steps to secure his life. Some of the more merciful finishes I appreciate, but those torturous moments are not something I want to see in dragged out details. So, animal activists with bleeding hearts beware, you are in for a treat that will hurt your aortic pumps at times.
Lackluster Dialogue: It's a good thing that the visuals are so stunning as they are the strongest components to telling their story. As for the dialogues, well... primal grunts and language with subtitles doesn't have the best ring. Accurate? Potentially, however Alpha's dialogue doesn't have the unique, movie magic quality that it probably needed. It's nice to have realism, but the conversations were almost pointless in the manner they presented this film in.
Limited characters: The main character and his four-legged friend are the stars of this show, but they try to introduce other characters in the first thirty minutes. It's nice to establish the family tree web of the group, but given the worthless dialogue and short screen time, it almost pointless to go into introductions of the characters if they were not going to use them more. The father in general has a few dream sequences, but they did not do much to expand on his thoughts after the big event... so not the best casting.
The Patchy Story: It's a story about getting back home, so there isn't much story components to expand upon. However, Alpha feels patchy to me as the shots blend together in a very rushed presentation. Things suddenly happen, there is little fluid buildup during transitions, and the predictable plot devices sort of fall into place too fast. I could see a lot of the places were cuts were made and while it led to faster pace, it would have been nice to see some more entertaining components to piece it together, but still not too bad.
Alpha is good in regards to the beautiful visual spectacle that it is. The primal world is alive in all of the amazing details that the big studios can make, and the even better it is in a nice concise 90 minutes to get you out quick. Alpha's adorable wolf (whether CGI or real) steals the show and will be the factor you want to bet on compared to the lead. Yes, the story is not the most unique, and is quite predictable thanks to the trailers, but it's patchy, linear story will be easier to follow. No, there is some suspense into this movie at times, but overall it's a pretty lax adventure movie, with the exception of the mad props to having to survive in the wilds of the past. Worth a trip to the theater? For visuals yes, but movie overall I cannot recommend it. In addition, I do not recommend 3-D viewing, because there is little to warrant the headache inducing effects this movie has.
My scores are:
Movie Overall:: 6.0
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