Saturday, October 6, 2018

Alpha: A Decent Movie

Ever since I saw the first trailer, Alpha was one movie I had been anticipating for over a year, even though I'm more of a cat lover. But as the months passed and having heard nothing, I feared that I had missed it. Then one day at the movie theater, I happened to look at the "Now Showing" posters, and recognized it. We went to go see it the very next week. It turns out they had delayed the release several times, and evidently decided not to advertise when it finally came out. So, I fully anticipate that most of you have never heard of this movie.

It was decent. It feels more like an independent film, not following the usual annoying Hollywood formulas, but rather just telling a story. In that way it was more fresh and intimate rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator. But this also means the intended audience may be smaller.

Keda is a young man living in a prehistoric post-caveman nomadic tribe. On his first hunting trip, he ends up lost and injured, and must make his way back before winter comes. On the way, he helps to nurse an injured wolf back to health and becomes good friends.

What originally attracted me to this movie was a semblance of the Akela story from Kipling, which was incorporated into the Cub Scouting program. "Law of the Pack" and all that good stuff. The idea of watching man and wolf becoming friends sounded interesting.

At the same time I feared that it would be dumb as other recent pre-historic movies (think 10,000 BC), but in the case of this movie, I was pleasantly surprised. Pre-historic man was not portrayed as ignorant cave dwellers, but rather as resourceful survivors. In fact, some scouts may recognize some survival techniques throughout the movie. The humans didn't speak in English, but rather some made-up language with subtitles, thus adding to the sense of reality.

The cinematography was superb, almost as good as Life of Pi, though at times it got a little too dark, and the stars didn't seem to have enough contrast. (Then again, it could have been because I was at a cheaper theater.)

The story was also good, providing all the feels. When the father thinks his son is dead, you know exactly what he's thinking. When the son thinks he won't survive, you know exactly what he feels.

My only complaint is that it felt too short. It was as if this film had so much potential that could have been reached if they had fleshed out the script a little more. For example, the "Alpha" concept that was introduced never really seemed to play out later in the movie. When it was over, I think we all asked, "That's all?" Maybe it just needed a more satisfying ending.

Even with that said, I highly recommend this film, especially if you like animals. It may be too late to catch it in the theaters, but rent it when you get a chance. It's a great family movie.

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