Every now and then there is a story that touches your heart. One that will cause happy tears to flow. Albert Hughes’ prehistoric travelogue Alpha is a perfect example. Set during the last ice age 20,000 years ago, it tells the story of Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) an inexperienced hunter of a tribe led by his father Tau (Johannes Haukur Johanneson). Keda is given words of wisdom in the film’s primitive subtitled language like “Life is for the strong. It is earned, not given.” With that in mind they go on a bison hunt creating a fence of spears. Some turn around and gallop the other way and some take the nest-tea plunge off a vertical cliff while one manages to gorge Keda tossing him (in slow motion) up in the air landing him on a narrow ledge far above the ground.
The camera angle that doesn’t dwell on any one shot too long looking down from the cliff requires lots of strong stomachs as it is as dizzying as you could ever not wish for. Stranded and left for dead he is determined to survive even though the only way off the edge is down and that’s what makes this movie a journey of survival. Fate and endurance save him in a way I didn’t see coming and once that points his way out he struggles to find his way home before the first snow.
Keda fights off a pack of wolves wounding one then nursing it back to health and soon become attached to one another through thick and thin and names it Alpha meaning leader. The breed of the dog is a Czechoslovakian wolfdog and high-five to the animal trainers by the way who were consistent with their continuity. The choreographer should get a blue ribbon for his work as it is captivating without overdoing it. When Keda falls through ice and is fighting to surface Alpha takes a slow motion leap in the air to break the ice.
I know it’s probably been seen before but that is a touching moment.
When the two weary-for-wear finally find their way home to the village, that will touch your heart. If that doesn’t then the wolf babies certainly will. Who knew Alpha was a female. Natassia Malthe who was opposed at Keda joining the annual ritual told him to lead with his heart, not his spear. He did with added help from Alpha. The film is a feel good movie and should be seen in Imax format. My screening was, plus 3-D. It is currently in theaters and runs for 97 minutes. It’s rated PG-13, opens August 17 and I proudly give Alpha a Grade A. Thank you Sony Pictures and Columbia. It also stars Leonor Varela, Jens Hulten, Mercedes de la Zerda, Priya Rajaratnam and Spencer Bogaert.