It starts with a seed, something that without its gardener, has no good use. Following the similar fashion of that growth process, Alpha shows what happens that planted seedling must go out past its garden patch to benefit more than just its maturation process through the fruits that it blooms. It may be a lemon, it may be a pitaya, but however the fruit strikes your taste buds, there some nutritional benefit here for you.
Its emotional impact is planted right when a young boy named Keda is thrown off a cliff during a buffalo attack led by the rest of his tribe. Unlike what the others believes, Keda survives this near-death experience, thus must rely on the stars’ direction to point his way back home. Keda then spares an attacking wolf’s life, which he names Alpha, the name for a wolf pack’s leader. His hospitality sparks a relationship like a dog attached to its owner, a symbiotic relationship seen across nature that sure enough becomes the genesis of where man’s best friend came from.
However, the passive question and answer dialogue still leaves the seedlings of this picture sun-scorched too harshly, which of course make the resulting product more noticeably flawed. It also leaves the editing much to be desired, particularly in consideration of the film’s unnecessary prologue, which depicts a scene repeated exactly later. Once the feature sways away from characters talking to each other and more about Keda by his lonesome, the repetitive pattern in the narrative follows a manner of conflict, survival, conflict, survival. Especially as it gets closer to the end, the scenario takes a monotonous toll much like the way summer’s heat makes you anticipate autumn.
But it allows room for the technicality to prowess; the powerful sound design stays quiet to give a feel of always present death, letting only nature strike whatever. Case in point: thunder roars against super bright lightning flashes louder than the immortal tribal drums heard. While such sounds of nature may be as pleasant to hear as dirt may be to taste, the environment progresses the maturation of our protagonist as it closes deeper onto his brush with death. So yes, it takes a while for these evocative moments to water viewers with the value of the world… but what a world it is! If nothing else, your mind will be blown by the outstandingly clear cosmic views that illuminate what allows survival, which increases the impact of snow that washes out Keda’s ability to look beyond himself. So long story short, his manhood journey is truly a big screen must see.
The world construction really helps the stem bloom its leaves, complete from the way director Albert Hughes, co-director of The Book of Eli, makes fireflies look almost like spiritual guides against the night. Then also, an active volcano appears like Mother Earth’s blood boiling to turn all life into ashes, a type of visual poetry to illustrate un-creation, or life destruction for life to sustain, further complemented when one man eats ants from his hand.
These provocative visuals still look much more comforting though than how Keda must eat a worm, then a fly, then maggots, to survive the wilderness. To illustrate true vitality that tests his skill, a solar eclipse reveals how nature must follow its course, even if it consequently inconveniences all other life. A spectacular time-lapse speed through a path complements these moments of seasonal progression, a stylistic choice that knows when to slow down, especially when it’s time to watch a bird flock form patterns against the sunrise.
As part of the necessary life destruction he learns, Keda struggles to make fire as a combat against the darkness. Concerning Keda is the chief’s son who has much to live up to, he sees the reality that he won’t always have mommy and daddy there to correct his mistakes. Before, he partook in an arrowhead construction pass/fail test around a campfire, but now, he must rely singlehandedly on rock pillars scattered around the land by his ancestors, whom his people believe are now in the sky to guide back home through the northern lights and stars.
Not everyone will feel shaken though, as this plant of a story grows taller, some viewers may see a flower undeserving of their living room vase. With monotonous events that feel carried out by mostly flat characterizations, a stick even be needed to straighten the stem out, with fruits malnourished of a reason to care about the tribe’s existential culture. Then comes the ending, or maybe I should say three endings, because just when the film seems to end, another scene stretches any patience, much like The Return of the King, except here diminishing the moral rather than closing any loose ends.
It means that Alpha contributes mostly a provider of seeds to plant other hopeful cinematic artists more wisdom to start the circle all over again. While Albert Hughes’ plant may wither quite quickly, and its fruits may rot before you notice, it certainly makes homey temporary decorations.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Alpha. Sony Pictures Digital Productions. Web. <http://www.alpha-themovie.com/site/www/#/>.
Henderson, Odie. “Alpha.” Digital image. Roger Ebert. Ebert Digital LLC, 17 Aug 2018. Web. <https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/alpha-2018>.