The connection of man and nature is a symbolic clock that continues to run in circles. In the beginning, there was a new Earth. When man was born, it had to rely on the beauty, resources, and even dangers that nature had in order to evolve. Today, mankind remains the dominant animal species and is the ones that now have to save nature. Deforestation, pollution, and extinction are factors of mankind's new endeavors that have created a double-edged sword. We've made mistakes that we're trying to correct, but we also tend to forget how far forward we've moved. In the case of animals, we've created connections as important as human relationships.
In an age where people are glued to technology, our relationship with animals still remains in a good place, especially when it comes to domestication. I myself have two dogs and love them to bits. Compared to the billions of years old that the earth is, domestication is young at only some tens of thousands. It started in the prehistoric of times when people were still mostly living in tribes, when we started to take in animals for a variety of reasons. Though we'll never know the full story, Alphaattempts to gives us seeds of our connection with dogs.
Set sometime 20,000 years ago, a group of cave people only lives to survive the cold environment of Pre-Europe. A part of the group is young man Keda (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who also happens to be the son of the chief. He has finally reached the age where he can join the hunting party, presumably to gather food for the winter. They aim for a stampede of Bison. Though they manage to divert several of them over a nearby cliff, Keda gets gored and is thrown over an edge. The tribe mourns their lost and heads home.
Miraculously, Keda is still alive, though with a broken foot and starved. He tries to go on further, until a group of wolves go after him. he fights them off, but feels sorry for one he damaged a leg. Keda takes the wolf to a cave where they heal. The wolf comes to understand his need for the humans care and continues to follow Keda, even when healed. Keda names the wolf "Alpha" as they proceed on the months long journey home.
If you can't tell by now, Alpha is another "a boy and his dog" story, similar to Old Yeller, A Dog of Flanders, and of course, Isle of Dogs. Alphadoes fit the mold and does it fine enough that a lot of people should like this. Is it something that I enjoyed? Parts of it, but for different reasons then one would think. The story itself is the best element. It's a simple survival story that does put our two main characters in constant pearl; even more so here because of the prehistory time setting. There's even a thrilling scene before the start of the plot involving the tribe at a campfire and a saber-tooth tiger.
In terms of character, you do get to know Keda and even of the other cave people. Though they don't have much motivation other then survive, they do have moments of sincere generosity and care for family. Even the wolf itself understands that given it was forced to trust a human, we get an understanding how this animal would like his master.
Some might wonder if the story and characters work, then what's wrong with Alpha. It comes down to the production aspect. My major issue here is that none of the casting feels right. I give them credit for trying, but they either were selected properly, or just simply needed more time to be given more of a caveperson look. Compare this to Quest for Fire, where everyone there looked dirty, mangled, and had lived in the outdoors for years. Here, the main kid looks like he went camping for the weekend. Plus when it comes to the cinematography, it's mixed. Director Albert Hughes (From Hell, Book of Eli) can make landscapes look really nice, but some shots can come off as obvious CGI that's rendered more like a video game. Not to mention that the beginning cuts to a sequence in the middle that would have been fine had the story flowed in real time.
I'll give this three wolves out of five. If the filmmaking and casting doesn't bother you, you'll probably enjoy this. In fact, I can see a lot of people liking this, especially dog lovers and families. I may be a dog person, but I wish the casting and production were done better. I doubt this movie is for me, but it's certainly for a lot of people. If this seems like up your ally, this this movie should get you howling.