Alpha Parent Guide
Can a teen who "leads with his heart, not his spear" survive in a prehistoric wilderness? Expect a slow answer to that question.
Parent Movie Review
Alpha is a slow movie. I don’t mean that as a criticism but as a statement of fact. Alpha moves at a deliberate pace, gradually unfolding the plot, carefully building up relationships between the human and animal characters, and lovingly sweeping over its awe-inspiring locations in Canada and Iceland. Filmgoers looking for action or comedy will be disappointed. However, those who enjoy a survival story, quietly told, might enjoy this prehistoric tale of a boy and his dog.
The story begins 20,000 years ago in Ice Age Europe. Humans live in scattered tribes, hunting to survive in their harsh climate. Our protagonist, Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is the son of Tau, the chief, played with dignified assurance by Johannes Haukur Johannesson. It is time for the annual buffalo hunt, and Keda is finally old enough to join the other hunters and become a man. Keda’s mother (Natassia Malthe) is worried about her son’s readiness. “He leads with his heart. Not his spear,” she says. Tau is convinced that her worries are needless. “He is stronger than you know,” he tells her. “He is even stronger than he knows.”
Tau’s assurance is tested quickly. Early in the hunt, it becomes apparent that Keda is unable to light a fire and that he is too soft-hearted to kill an animal. Soon after Keda’s embarrassing failures, the hunters catch up with their prey. As they stampede the animals to the edge of the cliff, Keda is caught by one of the bison and goes over the side. Given up for dead by his tribe, Keda awakens alone, with a broken ankle, trapped on a narrow cliff ledge. His father is not there to save him: all he has are his own wits to help him survive.
Luckily for Keda, aid comes in an unexpected package when he is stalked by wolves and knives one of the creatures in the leg. The teen develops a sense of fellow feeling for the injured animal, who he names Alpha, and nurses it back to health. Played by a Czechoslovakian wolfdog named Chuck, Alpha is one of the real stars of this movie, emoting with its eyes and body language. The relationship that develops between Keda and Alpha is critical to their mutual survival.
When it comes to family viewing, Alpha has some unusual considerations. It is almost entirely free of objectionable content, aside from hunting-related violence and situations of extreme danger. That being said, this film is not likely to be a smash hit with family audiences. Its biggest drawback for kids and teens comes from its dialogue. Spoken in an invented Cro-Magnon language, the film is subtitled throughout. Kids who don’t read well and anyone who finds subtitles distracting will not like this film. They may also be bored at the glacial pace of the plot. There are many, many minutes of characters trudging silently through a barren (albeit beautiful) landscape. On the flip side, filmgoers of any age who enjoy survival movies, history or nature documentaries, and who are prepared to be patient, will find their niche with Alpha.Directed by Albert Hughes. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Leonor Varela, Natassia Malthe. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release August 17, 2018. Updated August 17, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is Alpha rated PG-13? Alpha is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some intense peril.
There is a lot of hunting related violence – animals being speared, stabbed with knives, and shot with arrows. Humans and animals both suffer injuries and blood is shown. Bison are stampeded off a cliff as part of a hunt. A young man is dragged away from a fire and devoured by an unseen animal: This occurs at night, so nothing is visible to the audience. Teenage boys beat up other boys: the action is blurred in the background but bloody noses are seen afterwards. The protagonist is attacked by more than one wild animal.
A wolf delivers pups. (No explicit material is seen.)
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Page last updated August 17, 2018
Alpha Parents' Guide
Stampeding animals off cliffs is a traditional hunting style that was also practiced by First Nations people in North America. The Canadian province of Alberta is home to the Head- Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site, a major interpretive center that preserves and teaches about the culture of Alberta’s Blackfoot tribe and other Plains tribes.
News About "Alpha"
This movie was formerly call" The Solutrean".
Related home video titles:
The 2016 version of The Jungle Book is another computer animated/live action tale that features a boy who was raised by wolves. White Fang depicts a more-modern teen who endures arctic temperatures with the help of a loyal wolf-dog. And Ice Age presents a more comical story of survival for a group of animal and a human baby.