Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young hunter in prehistoric Europe, finds himself lost and alone after a being separated from his tribe following a tragic incident whilst hunting for food.
Waking up dazed and confused and with a rather inconvenient broken leg (just to make matters worse), Keda must utilise the tools his father has taught him to find his way home and survive the imminent winter snows.
Early into his journey, Keda finds companionship with a similarly injured wolf, and the two must overcome thousands of years of instinct to coexist and survive the dangers ahead of them.
Alpha is most easily described as the lovechild of The Revenant and My Dog Skip, with the hyper-stylised filmmaking of Zack Snyder.
There are moments that take great inspiration from the dramatic, slow motion action sequences of 300, with the colour correction and choreography to match. This approach does wonders for Alpha, with many shots throughout the film ranging from impressive to downright gorgeous.
Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t have the same level of detail and personality to match the visuals. The story being told here doesn’t have much to sink one’s teeth into. It is very much a tale of survival like The Revenant. However, where that film used survival and revenge as its core concepts, Alpha puts all its eggs in one basket and goes all out on the survival aspect.
There are two downfalls to this approach; firstly, the film doesn’t really expand beyond Keda walking through the wilderness and secondly, a lack of conflict reduces him to a one-dimensional character. There are attempts to deviate from the monotony of travelling through the prehistoric wasteland, with cuts to Keda’s grieving father attempting to cope with his loss, but the time between these scenes is so long that when he does show up, it’s difficult to feel emotionally invested in his bereavement.
Alpha has its fair share of beautiful moments, stylised choreography and editing, but a mostly uneventful journey and an unnecessary switch-up during the third act sours the sweeter moments by end of Keda’s journey.
In cinemas: September 27, 2018
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson
Directed by: Albert Hughes