One of the most unique films I have seen in a long time is the new release “Alpha.” If you have a pet dog or have ever had a pet dog, you will appreciate this film which craftily tells how man came to connect with man’s best friend: dogs. The film is set 20,000 years ago during the Ice Age and introduces us to a young man named Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his family. After proving he is worthy to the other men in his tribe, Keda joins the men and some other boys his age for his first hunt in the wilderness. The men are hunting buffalo for the survival of their tribe, and when their long journey culminates in confronting the herd, all does not go as planned, especially for Keda. The lad is wounded and thrown off a cliff by a charging buffalo, and despite all attempts to rescue him, is thought dead.
His devastated father, Tau (Johannes Haukur Johannesson), and the tribe reluctantly head back to their home many miles away. Without revealing how he survives, Keda is left alone in the wilderness and begins the long journey to find him home, but not before he runs into a pack of wolves. Keda does manage to fight them off, and one of the injured wolves is abandoned by the pack. Keda and the wolf reluctantly realize they must rely on one another to survive the harsh wilderness and harsh impending winter. Watching Keda and the wolf, eventually named Alpha, bond, and develop a trusting and loving relationship, is fascinating. The duo must deal with not only harsh snowstorms, but hyenas and a surprise animal in a cave where they seek shelter.
Eventually the duo run into Alpha’s pack, and Keda tells his new best friend to join his pack once more. Will the two be reunited? Let’s just say Alpha’s love for Keda is stronger than the love for his pack. As one my expect, despite some harrowing moments and near death experiences, the duo eventually make it to Keda’s home, where Alpha is welcomed and a plot twist occurs. Smit-McPhee, who you may remember from “Deadpool 2”, is amazing in this film and is never overshadowed by his furry co-star. The film is beautifully filmed with some of those most breathtaking scenery you will see this side of the television series “Planet Earth.” The story is a thrilling, yet touching tale of how man came to bond with his best animal friend.
I will alert you if you have a problem with subtitles, you need to know the characters speak in an ancient language, resulting in the need for subtitles throughout the film. For me, this was no distraction and I enjoyed viewing a truly amazing example of cinematic eye-candy. I will always remember a line Keda’s father quoted to him early in the film: “Raise your head and your eyes will follow.” “Alpha” is a film full of thrills, heart, and love.