“Alpha” should have been, like Keda, (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) the protagonist in this coming-of-age drama set during the Ice Age, left for dead. Though it does have its moments, “Alpha” mainly sputters along towards a highly expected ending, with sub-par computer generated imagery (CGI) landscapes, dead-pan acting and a yawn-worthy plot.
On his first hunt with his tribe, Keda, who is the chief’s son, runs into some trouble and, as mentioned, is abandoned, with his tribe under the impression that he is dead. Keda, a sensitive, gentle but tactically smart teen, runs into a wolf pack, narrowly managing to stay alive. He hurts a wolf in the process of doing so, who, like Keda, is left for dead by its pack. Keda, who in his mother’s words: “leads with his heart”, cares for the wolf’s wound. He names it Alpha. Thus begins their long, tireless and thoroughly uneventful journey to find their respective tribes. With not many obstacles other than the weather and the odd predator here and there, the plot here on out is rather dull and boring.
One of the rare bright moments of “Alpha” would be the first few moments when Keda meets and decides to care for and get closer to Alpha. These couple of scenes highlight and emphasise Keda’s gentle nature, while bringing to the emotional sub-plot to the forefront at the same time. But it is let down by Kodi Smit-McPhee’s dead-pan expressions.
Talking about expressions, I sincerely believe that Alpha (the wolf) has more emotional range than the whole human cast combined. With its subtle grunts and whines, Alpha conveys so much more emotional depth, especially when compared to Keda. While one might be able to argue how the humans depicted in the film are “less evolved”, I highly doubt the dead-pan acting was specifically intentional.
With actors who have seriously lacking performing skills, inadequate and unimpressive visuals (especially for this day and age) and downright stale plot, “Alpha” deserves nothing more than two stars out of five.
Save your money and spend it on something other than “Alpha”. Its lofty aspirations are immensely let down by its cast, visual effects team and scriptwriters.
Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️