Alpha, rated PG-13
Alpha is a mostly family-friendly adventure film about a boy and his…. wolf. The film, which takes place 20,000 years ago in the last Ice Age, is directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli). The screenplay is written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt, and is based on a story by Hughes. The film, which had a budget of $51 million, has its dialogue in an unknown language, and is completely sub-titled, so it is recommended for kids old enough to read and up.
The tribe is led by Tau, played by Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson. Each year, a dangerous Great Hunt journey must be made before winter sets in to get food (bison) for the tribe. Tau’s hope is that his sensitive son Keda, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), will one day take over leadership of the tribe. This will be Keda’s first Great Hunt, but there’s a problem: Keda doesn’t like to kill animals.
The film opens with a scene in which the tribe attacks a herd of bison. During the attack, Keda is flung over the edge of a cliff, eventually falling onto a small ledge far below. With no way to get down to his son, who he assumes is dead, Tau must leave his son and head back on the long journey home before winter sets in.
But Keda did not die, though his foot is badly injured. He somehow is able to get off the ledge to safety, but then is pursued by a pack of vicious wolves. He is able to injure one of them, the alpha wolf. Eventually the other wolves leave both Keda and the injured wolf behind.
Keda, again hesitant to kill, eventually decides to nurse the injured wolf back to health. Very slowly, we see Keda and the wolf, who he names Alpha, begin to trust each other and build a friendship. But will Keda be able to make the long journey back home to his family, especially with the brutal winter conditions coming soon?
The movie, which was filmed near East Coulee, Alberta, Canada and at Dinosaur Provincial Park near Patricia Alberta, is visually stunning, thanks to cinematographer Martin Gschlacht. We see beautiful blue water, the stars of the sky, desert sand and blizzard-like conditions.
Content concerns include some spirituality, primarily around ancestor worship, and some violence that could be frightening for young children. Themes include family, sacrifice, danger, death, survival, love and courage.
Alpha is a well-made film that older children and adults will enjoy.