Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) with Alpha in Columbia Pictures and Studio 8's ALPHA.

Film Review – ‘Alpha’ (2018)

Films about ‘Man’s best friend,’ have quite a broad spectrum. However, never has there really been one set in the prehistoric era. ‘Alpha’ is set 20,000 years ago. There is true merit to the film and will make the viewer learn how dog descended from wolf and became man’s best friend. In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt and finds a similarly lost wolf companion to start a friendship that would change humanity.

It’s captivating to see ‘Alpha’ tell a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man’s best friend. To witness the lack of trust at first and see their relationship blossom is intriguing. To see how man will feed wolf, protect it by cleaning its bloody wounds and provide love to it, implies that the wolf will reciprocate and add true loyalty to its master. To see the two allies endure countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives makes it a true adventure for families to enjoy.

Let Me In’ star Kodi Smit-McPhee is pleasantly surprising. He still takes good lead roles and carries a film confidently. His intelligence as a young actor is impressive; playing Benvolio brilliantly in 2013’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was evidence of this. Nonetheless, in ‘Alpha’ he speaks a North American Indian dialect fluently, as Jim Caviezel spoke fluent Aramaic in ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ One would the how long it would take Smit-McPhee to master a rare spoken language as well as the other actors in the film.

The true quality of ‘Alpha’ is the spectacular wide shot cinematography which deserves an Oscar nomination. The sun sets beautifully as our leads, (Keda), Smit- McPhee and his wolf aka Alpha is breathtaking as they walk along the big mountains and glaciers along the horizon. It’s perfect filmmaking. It is interesting how Albert Hughes has chosen to write and direct this project, considering all his films are rated R, Hughes has directed his first family film. He has truly shied away from his most notable works such as ‘Menace II Society,’ ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘From Hell.’ ‘The Book of Eli’ will always be his most bankable film, but the main concern of ‘Alpha’ is it will not appeal to a mainstream audience as it is not in the English language. It is a fact that a prehistoric language or North American Indian dialect will lose its marketability.

Conclusively, the film is aimed at families who must embrace a challenge of bearing subtitles. Keep in mind, action speaks louder than words and there is definitely more action. The rules of to show rather than tell on a script are truly present in this film. Nevertheless, the tension truly twitches your every nerve. Our wolf, Alpha is stunning and loyal. It’s a protector that you’ll grow to love and become emotionally attached to. A fun fact about the well-trained canine is the breed of the dog is called a Czechoslovakian wolfdog. These dogs can be tamed and trained, hence work perfectly to look identical to a wolf. Expect one powerful twist in the end that will make your heart melt and the tears to stream out. ‘Alpha’ is truly worth watching as one could compare this to a tamer version of ‘The Revenant without the revenge theme.’ In 4D, the room temperature should be -10 degrees then there would be no distance between the audience and the films freezing atmosphere.

Aly Lalji | [rating=4]

Adventure, Drama | USA, 2017 | 12A | 24th August 2018 (UK) | Subtitles | Sony Pictures Releasing | Dir.Albert Hughes | Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Varela, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson