Spoiler Free ALPHA Review: “Find Your Strength”

ALPHA, from Sony Pictures Releasing, is an origin story for the domestication of the wolf – man’s first best friend.  The hows and whys have been lost in prehistory, but ALPHA gives us a plausible – and relatable – story for how dogs became humans’ most-valued helpmates. Continue reading for our ALPHA review.

ALPHA follows a prehistoric young man, named Keda, as he goes through the rites of passage leading to his becoming a hunter for his band.  Keda is the son of the chief, so all eyes are on him.  The hunters of the band go off in search of bison.  The newest hunters, including Keda, are brought along and we see their transition from timid followers to active participants.  And then they find the bison.  Here is where Keda’s real story begins.  After a devastating hunting accident, the band returns without Keda, unable to help him and also unable to wait any longer to return, because winter is coming.

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Hunters in Columbia Pictures and Studio 8’s ALPHA © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As Keda makes his way home, alone, he encounters a wolf pack.  In a scene reminiscent of Scott O’Dell’s “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” Keda injures one of the wolves and, after the pack abandons the injured wolf, picks up the wolf and brings it with him on his journey. Recognizing that he and the wolf are experiencing the same situation, in their own ways helps Keda to bond with the wolf and to keep going on his quest.

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Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) with a wolf pup in Columbia Pictures and Studio 8’s ALPHA © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kido Smit-McPhee, as Keda, does a great job portraying a teen in the throes of manhood.  He has the perfect balance of vulnerability and self-determination, with none of the disrespect and arrogance that is often seen in portrayals of teen boys in movies. There were stronger pressures on Keda, as the son of the chief, and on his father, both of which are acted superbly.

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Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) with Alpha © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

One of the best features of this movie is the realization of theories of how prehistoric people lived their daily lives.  Seeing how they might have tracked animals, shared information, kept themselves and others safe, was fascinating. Almost as striking is the scenery.  The landscapes (of Paleolithic Europe) are stunning.  It’s hard to imagine that the Europe of today, with all of the stunning buildings that have been charming visitors for centuries, was once the beautiful land of the movie, with cliffs, waterfalls, plains, and more.

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Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) with Alpha © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

ALPHA is geared towards families with older children and, of course, any dog lover.  There are some scenes that could be very frightening for young children, including violence, blood, and fear. There is one scene that will be startling for dog lovers, but should be taken in the context of the movie (and perhaps explained thoughtfully in context for younger viewers).

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.