Swanner: Alpha tells the story of Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young man who lives with his tribe in a northern land 20,000 years ago. On his first hunt with the males of the tribe, Keda loses a battle with a bison and is presumed dead. After his tribe returns home we find that Keda is alive and must find his way home. Along his journey he meets Alpha, a wolf that Keda fights off and then nurses back to health. Alpha then joins Keda on his travels becoming the first best friend to man.
Judd: Alpha is directed by Albert Hughes, who is best known for directing The Book of Eli, Menace II Society and Dead Presidents. Alpha is a much different type of movie than those, and I wonder if Hughes was up to the task. Smit-McPhee, meanwhile, has the resume of a young actor with the chops to take on block buster action movies (X-men franchise), as well as indie dramas (Let Me In, Slow West). Alpha, the titular dog, has no pedigree.
Swanner: I just need to know, were the animals real? I’ve been Life of Pi’d one too many times. I thought the animals were wonderful in the show but with todays technology I’m not sure there were animals. I also notice that not only was this a film about the very first dog companion but that Keda’s mother thought he was gay… or whatever it was called during that time period. “He leads with his heart, not with the spear” was the equivalent of todays “He’s a girl!”
Judd: “Sensitive” used to be the code word for gay, but these days boys are allowed to have emotions. Haven’t you watched enough teen angst movies to realize that by now? Though, I would gladly welcome Keda to our team. The movie, however, runs extremely slow, and left me wondering who it was made for. Young children will get bored, adults will get bored, and there isn’t enough action for teenage boys. Outside of tween-age girls and “sensitive” boys, I can’t see this Alpha appealing to the masses.
Swanner: It was a hard 97 minutes to sit through. This is a movie that tells the story of the first dog and I wasn’t in tears once. I should have been weeping through the last 20 minutes – but nothing. It really is a beautifully made film but there wasn’t any chemistry between Alpha and Keda. I also don’t understand how it takes the “men” a week to get to the hunt grounds but it takes Keda a season to get back? I guess there was a lot of going up hill on the way home. I wanted to like this more but I’m suggesting folks should wait for the home video release.
Judd: It was first time Keda left the village, so I can understand why it took so long to return (maybe not that long!), but there were other choices Keda made throughout the film that I thought were extremely foolish and didn’t make much sense. I completely agree that the chemistry between Alpha and Keda was nonexistent. A Boy and His Dog movie should make even stone-hearted misanthropes, like myself, shed a tear. If even you were left dry-eyed, this movie can only be considered a failure.
Swanner: 1 ½ stars
Judd: 1 star