Thursday, August 16, 2018


Alpha is pretty much what you would expect. The screenplay by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt combines well-established tropes of the long road home and a boy and his dog for an inoffensive summer popcorn flick. If director Albert Hughes (who also wrote the original story) isn't that ambitious, he does succeed in producing a passable tale.

The film's opening scene introduces us to Kedo (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young warrior on his first hunt. The son of the chief (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), Kedo has the burden of the clan's expectations on him. Separated from his group, and believed dead, an injured Kedo is forced to travel the long distance home alone, that is until he befriends a wolf he names Alpha.

One of the strengths of the film are its visuals, and by this I don't only mean capturing the wide landscapes for IMAX screens. Hughes frames each shot in a way that the film would work (perhaps better) without any dialogue. His actors are expressive and the basic themes of family, home, friendship, and survival work on a universal level while both the (bland) dialogue and subtitles actually detract from the story.

The plot at times steers into its tropes in ways that I didn't always agree with, but wasn't surprised by. While Kedo's basic survival is more than anyone could reasonably expect, the script throws a series of challenges in front of warrior and his four-legged friend that come close to reaching absurd heights before the obvious conclusion. There are also few surprises here; the movie is exactly what a two-sentence summary of it sounds like. That said, the film is inarguably visually engaging. I don't know that it needs to be seen on a 3D IMAX screen, but the larger screen does help sell the vastness of Kedo's world and the length of his journey.

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