ALPHA (director: Albert Hughes; screenwriter: Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt; cinematographer: Martin Gschlacht; editor: Sandra Granovsky; music: Joseph S. DeBeasi, Michael Stearns; cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee (Keda), Johannes Haukur Johannesson (Chief Tau), Natassia Malthe (Rho), Morgan Freeman (Narrator), Jens Hulten (Xi), Priva Rajaratnam (Huntress), Leonor Varela (Shamen); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Andrew Rona; Columbia Pictures; 2018)
“Aside from the beautiful visuals that set an impressive pre-historic look, the film dragged.“ Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz This is the first Albert Hughes (“From Hell”/”The Book of Eli”) film he directed without his brother Allen. It’s an epic feel-good survivalist adventure story, looking much like a Disney film that’s scripted by Daniel Sebastian Weidenhaupt. It tells of a pre-historic young man who makes the first human bond with a wolf while trying to make it home alone from the wilderness. The subtitled film has the actors talking in an unidentifiable pre-civilization language. The film is set 20,000 years ago in Europe. Chief Tau (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) brings his beloved but unskilled in hunting teen son Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) for the tribe’s annual hunt of the bisons to get food needed for winter. Mom (Natassia Malthe) worries that her son has the heart for the hunt but has not mastered using the spear. She tells us a number of times “Keda leads with his heart, not his spear.” During a bison stampede, a bison locks horns with Keda and he falls down a deep cliff and can’t be rescued. When Keda regains consciousness, a flood allows him to swim to safety. But wolves attack him. While defending himself he stabs the leader of the wolf pack. Instead of killing the wolf, Keda nurses the wolf back to health and gives it the name Alpha. He then crosses the harsh wilderness with the grateful wolf by his side. But he must overcome many dangers, as he strives to return to his tribe. Aside from the beautiful visuals that set an impressive pre-historic look, the film dragged, the narrative never fully engaged me and I was bored for long periods of the trek home.
REVIEWED ON 8/31/2018 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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