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Alpha Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, August 24, 2018 • Hollywood ]
Alpha Review
Columbia Pictures, Studio 8, The Picture Company
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Leonor Varela, Jens Hulten, Johannes Haukur Johannesson
Albert Hughes
Albert Hughes, Andrew Rona
Joseph S. DeBeasi

Alpha: A slow tale of survival

Hollywood has seen several survivor movies, animation, space, reality, snow and what not. Alpha is loosely the tale of a pre-historic man who survives all odds, also is the story of how man’s best friend – Dog was loyal even before thousands of years. This is a movie that major production companies would hesitate to take on. It’s a survival and coming-of-age story about how mankind first adopted dogs. It takes place during the last Ice Age, with movie embracing that completely. The characters talk in an unidentified prehistoric language.

Good thing about the movie is it doesn’t do English way like 10000 BC, the highly visual family film is set 20,000 years ago, in the harsh wilderness of Northern Europe. There, a tribe is preparing for their annual hunt-and it-s hard to tell who is more solid, the men or the mammoths. But this isn’t just a Stone Age trip-it's also a sacred rite of passage for the youngest men. A young tribesman named Keda is brought on the annual bison hunt by his father where the assembled warriors of two tribes somehow manage to convince an entire herd of these animals to fall off of a cliff and hunt their corpses from there. An accident happens; thanks to Keda’s reluctance to kill one of the heavy duty animals, as a result the young man is thrown off the side of the cliff. His tribe leaves him for dead, as there’s no way to get to where he fell, and Keda eventually is forced to try and make his way back to them alone. Well, that is until he’s attacked by a pack of wolves and, before he climbs into a tree to wait out the assault, manages to wound one of the dogs.     

Thanks to a broken ankle and winter settling down along with a number of obstacles, Keda’s journey is much more imposing and lengthy than the one that brought him to his test. But along the way, Keda makes an unlikely friend when he encounters a pack of wolves and wounds one of its leaders. At its heart, "Alpha" is a compelling modern day story of a youngster trying to wreck out of his freedom, its as if how all the modern day youth have followed Keda as he learns to fend for himself in the harsh wilderness of life. The boy is timid and unsure at first - we see him falter when his father asks him to kill a boar the tribe has captured for food. But over the course of the film, Keda is asked to grow at a rapid rate.

The problem comes down to the pace of the movie. This is a problem that a lot of survival movies have in that there is only so much you can do before things get a little dull. For a movie that’s only 1 hour 30 minutes long, Alpha feels a lot longer than that. It has an overly long prologue that sets everything up, we don’t meet the dog until a full half hour into the movie, and there are only so many times we can cut to wide shots of the landscape before it feels repetitive. The film certainly has its lion’s share of visuals, the vast landscape with greenery, snow and all that is incredibly worth the IMAX experience. But an overkill of loneliness and lack of anything interesting overall gives a dull feel. Yes survival is tough, but it doesn’t need to be left in the wilderness for a good time.

Verdict : Overall Alpha is an ambitious film, stuns with some high decibel VFX and a touching story. The slow pace plays as a major spoilsport, otherwise a worthy watch.

Rating: 3 / 5.0

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