The story isn’t one that’s unheard of and it’s one that audiences love to indulge. Alpha, while a simple story, is a visually impressive tale about man and wolf. In other words, man and the first dog.
Alpha places itself 20,000 years ago when mankind is still nomadic and primitive, but asserting itself toward the top of the food-chain. Of course, man isn’t there yet and so it’s a brutal environment that requires strength, determination, and patience. Keda is a boy becoming a man in his tribe and he’s going out on his first hunt, but he’s unskilled and still naive to what is required of him if he expects to survive in the world.
Unfortunately, Keda’s inexperience lands him in a life or death situation when he’s ripped apart from his hunting group, which includes his father. Assuming he is long gone, the group leaves Keda behind as they return home before winter.
What follows is a story of survival and, as Keda learns to adapt to his environment and practices the skills he needs to live, he comes across a wolf. Alpha.
The two will have to rely on each other if they hope to live.
Keda is portrayed by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Alpha by Chuck. Their onscreen relationship, while shaky at the beginning, turns into one of affection and trust. Their challenges keep the audience hooked and waiting to see what happens next.
The entire film is subtitled and the actors speak in an unknown dialect, perhaps a made up one. The speaking is minimal and the subtitles are easy to follow. People going into this film may be unaware that no English is spoken, and many may be turned off by the idea, but the subtitles are largely unnoticeable once the story is underway.
Alpha is visually impressive and, given the opportunity, it should be seen in IMAX. The film shows off wide expanses of landscape and the use of CGI is exceptional.
Worth taking into consideration, however, is some startling imagery shown onscreen, including hunting scenes and injuries. Parents taking their kids to this movie should be aware of what they can handle. If it might be too much, it would be best to keep the kids at home.
This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review