An epic adventure set in the last Ice Age, Alpha tells a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man’s best friend.
Alpha functions as, perhaps surprisingly, a life-giving feature; ironic, as much of the film revolves around the outlying threat of taking life away. A survivalist tale, a la Jack London at times, the film, directed by Albert Hughes, sets the stakes a bit higher. What it offers that other films of this caliber might not are the stark realizations of what the visual storytelling contributes to the film. From an aesthetic look at the tale, Alpha scratches at something masterful.
The images, realized not only by Hughes but cinematographer Martin Gschlacht, evoke something that is obviously primal—complementary to a story about early mankind, but further something that does not need words. Exterior shots range in abundance, as well as the spacial awareness between young Keda (Kodi Smith-McPhee) and the wolf Alpha. But in all of nature’s brutality is the beauty in naturalistic living. Not that Hughes pushes any such agenda, only that the rich strokes of color that define the elements of the film suggest beauty in all things, life and death and so on.
The Dove Take
Alpha contains several positive messages, not least the value of teamwork, empathy towards all things, human or animal, and profound respect for the natural world. Only due to the volume of violent content can Dove not approve of the film, but its positive and hopeful messages continue to ring, as mentioned, life-giving.