Alpha Review

Alpha - Theatrical Poster

There have been so many films about the relationship between man and dogs for many years now. Some films depict the dogs being friendly to humans, like Lassie or Benji. Then there are times where the dogs are vicious to humans, like Cujo. However, not many films have covered the origin story about this sacred relationship. This is the premise of Albert Hughes’ latest film, Alpha. But does Alpha tell a good story about the first meeting between humans and dogs?

Although Alpha could easily be another heartwarming tale about humans and dogs, ultimately, it is not. It’s essentially a film that is more style than substance.

Alpha follows Keda, the son of a tribal chief. When the tribes goes off on a hunting mission, Keda is seriously injured and thought to be dead. However, Keda survives and goes on an incredible journey to make it back home while discovering the friendship between man and dog along the way.

Alpha

One of the best things about Alpha is in its stunning visuals. Which isn’t a surprise since director Albert Hughes is no stranger to stylistic visuals. In fact, that’s his greatest strength. But Hughes seemingly takes great inspiration from two particular films: 300 and Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time. 300‘s cinematic use of slow motion and the environmental cinematography of Voyage makes Alpha one of the most visually stunning films of the year. Not to mention, Hughes creates such a wild and beautiful world for which these characters live in.

Yet the visuals are practically makeup for a shaky film. First of all, the film doesn’t necessarily build the bond between Alpha and Keda. Their relationship is haphazardly put together and, as a result, you never really feel the chemistry between the two. The film also builds upon the strong first act. As things look dire in the first act, you never feel that they’re in any extreme danger once Keda and Alpha finally team up.

It should also be noted that the entire film in another language. So expect to read subtitles throughout the entire film. The film uses this foreign language in order to hammer home the idea that this is before the establishment of modern language. Be that as it may, it’s this mixture of realism and the fantastical that causes a confusion in tone. The film tries to depict this world as it might’ve been back then. However, the film is full of stylish scenes that may take you away from the realism. It’s a mixture that doesn’t seem to blend together.

Alpha - Kodi Smit-McPhee

Kodi Smit-McPhee fits into this role quite nicely. He provides a physicality that we haven’t really seen from him before. He essentially goes through the proverbial ringer here. Yet there’s a kindness in his performance that helps the film out immensely. It’s believable that he’s kind enough to befriend a wild animal in this treacherous wilderness. It also helps that he doesn’t have the physical stature to make you think he can survive these harsh conditions easily. Thus, you want him to survive along with Alpha.

Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson also impresses in his minor role. He provides the film with a lot of emotion as the father of Keda. Not to mention, he gives the film some gravitas because he’s also the chief of the tribe. He may have had a small part here but it’s still a noteworthy performance.

Overall, Alpha is a decent film about the first friendship between man and canine. Although the relationship between Keda and Alpha leaves a lot to be desired, the film is still a stylish and visually stunning watch.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1343 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.