Jóhannes Haukur JóhannessonKodi Smit-McPhee...
In 9 Cinemas
Anyone born in the last two millennia grew up to find dogs as the loyal creatures we do not deserve, the trusted companions through our various activities and the ultimate best friend for humans. But, before that time, dogs were actually undomesticated wolves, making friendship with man unlikely. Alpha conveys a scenario of how an unexpected friendship between uncivilised man and untamed canine set the first precedent for man’s best friend.
Alpha follows Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the son of the tribe chief, as he heads for his first hunt and gets injured, stranded, presumed dead, and left behind. As Keda attempts to survive and journey back home, he forms an unusual friendship with a wolf.
The plot is a sort of mix between Dancing with the Wolves and 10,000 B.C. But, outside the realms of these two films the plot is clear and straight forward. It is also a bit repetitive as each scene has Keda and his companion Alpha facing a new challenge, and one just barely saving the other. The roles switch, the challenges change, but the premise is the same.
The intriguing part throughout the challenges is how the relationship between Keda and Alpha develops naturally with a combination between domestication and compassion. It’s obvious that the actual first attempt at domestication and friendship would have not gone this smoothly, but the film puts in enough spats and has the characters go through enough ordeals together, that the development is believable.
There was some exaggeration, mainly at the beginning during Keda’s first hunt. The scene where he is thought to be dead is especially over dramatic and similar to Mufasa’s death in The Lion King, and not in a good way.
For the acting, Kodi Smit-McPhee gave a strong performance, staying away from exaggeration but maybe playing it a bit too safe. There is definitely more that could have been done, and the fact that Smit-McPhee played it safe took away from what the role could have been. Playing his father, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson did not have the biggest of roles but he commanded it just as a tribal chief would, with power and charisma.
You have probably seen a lot of survival flicks but, if you are a major dog lover and are into films set in a world before civilisation, this might be for you.