Although it takes place 20,000 years ago, Alpha and its themes of familial love, faith and friendship resonate with viewers. Although the gruesome, often unnecessarily graphic hunt scenes will leave even the most courageous adults shutting their tear-filled eyes, many of the movie’s moments are emotive enough to shine through.
The film follows Keda, a young man who is mistakenly left for dead by his tribe. Aside from his treacherous path home, the protagonist’s main journey is his road to friendship with Alpha, a wolf whose abandonment mirrors his own. Although their relationship has a rocky start (they first meet in a bloodthirsty brawl) they soon bond, leading to the first domestication of a canine – or from Alpha’s eyes, the first domestication of man. The pair’s relationship flourishes in spite of blizzards and blood, proving to the audience that friendship can conquer all.
It is clear from the very first scene that Alpha is not a particularly family-friendly movie. It opens with a terrifyingly realistic bison hunt, a gory beginning that foreshadows the death and brutality that punctuate the film. In fact, the vehement violence might be the only constant in the feature; most of the picture is an emotionally exhausting sequence of suspense, love and bereavement that lacks focus on any one moment. The jumpiness of the piece is a double-edged sword: although the piece may be overbearingly action-packed at times, it remains exciting and adrenaline-filled for all of its 96 minutes.
Surprisingly, the fact that the story is told in an unidentified prehistoric language makes the movie’s themes more readily digestible, as the real focus is in the small actions that demonstrate loyalty, friendship and courage. Keda’s unbreakable will and infinite dedication transform his cowardice to courage and his insecurity into self-belief. The main character craves more than survival – he wants to prove himself to his family and tribe.
All in all, Alpha is relentless not only in its pugnacious battle scenes, but also in its depiction of alliance despite all odds. The film’s main flaw is the lack of confidence that leads to its over-reliance on odious massacres. However, much like its protagonist, this feature defies odds and expectations, breaking free of the typical survival movie mould and propelling itself into cinematic greatness.
Alpha is released nationwide on 24th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for Alpha here: