Back in the nineties, director Albert Hughes made a name for himself with movies like Menace II Society and - to a lesser degree - Dead Presidents, both of which he made along with his brother. 2001’s From Hell, their take on the Jack the Ripper story based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel, was another solid movie. Don’t know what happened after that, but it took them nine years before they came back with The Book of Eli, a not so good apocalyptic movie starring Denzel Washington. Almost ten years later again, and Albert Hughes is back at it with ‘Alpha’, his solo directorial debut.
Back in the Paleolithic era (if you don’t know when that is exactly, think long-ass time ago... which explains the made-up caveman language), a teenage boy named Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) finds himself hunting bison. That is, until one of the animal flips the table on Keda and starts hurtling toward the boy, ready to inflict some serious damage. The only thing more scary here than the large animal bearing down on a dude armed with nothing but a stick, is how bad the CGI is.
Keda then is presumed dead after he ends up getting thrown off a cliff by said bison. While struggling to find his way back home, he gets attacked by wolves and only manages to escape by severely wounding one. But seeing as this kid - as his mother puts it - is more about leading with his heart than a spear, he then nurses the wolf back to health and they gradually become friends.
‘Alpha’ works as a family movie. But nothing more. While you are treated to enough beautiful shots of snowy tundras to last you a lifetime, everything is so stylized that it ends up looking as fake as the CGI’d bison. And what you are left with then is just another not so fascinating story about a kid and his dog.