REVIEW: “Alpha”

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Jonathan Montague, Staff Writer

Everybody loves dogs, right? It would seem so, considering that this is the second summer movie about dogs and their relationship with people. “Alpha” strives to tell the origin of how the canine became “man’s best friend.” Will you leave with your tail wagging?

Taking place 20,000 years ago, Keda, son of the chief of his tribe, is looking to prove himself ready to become the next leader of his people. On his first hunt to gather food for his hungering tribe, he ends up in a near fatal accident with no way to save him. His fellow hunters leaving him behind, he tries to make it back home. Fate brings him and a fierce wolf and they work together as they make the long journey home in a fight against the elements to survive.

This film’s plot is nothing more than what it has to be and I really like that about it. One character has to carry this film and they really do a good job of making him relatable. His relationship with Alpha, the wolf, is well built. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this movie is the pacing. The narrative moves a snail’s pace and soon you’re begging for the boy and the wolf to finally meet and start their journey together. To see that the movie was only an hour and a half baffled me because I could have sworn that it was at least two.

Kodi Smit-McPhee is clearly very talented and he brings his A-game here. He probably won’t get nominated for an Oscar for it, but I could see them campaigning for it. He carries the movie well and proves himself as a leading man. The other actors also give surprisingly good performances, especially Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as Keda’s father.

The film looks gorgeous with amazing shots of the landscape and neat camera angles, but unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that for a good portion of it, that’s all you see. Pretty shots of Canada and our two main characters making it across. And it’s not helped by the slower than slow pacing.

Overall, “Alpha” will deliver exactly what the audience is going for. It could move a little more briskly, but other than that, there’s not really anything wrong with it. I wasn’t looking forward to it much and I had a decent time. If you feel like you want to see it, you probably will enjoy it.