‘Alpha’ Movie Review – A Surprisingly Captivating Adventure Film

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“I will call you Alpha,” says Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young hunter who has befriended an injured wolf on his long, dangerous, and lonely journey home in the dramatic adventure, Alpha.

The film takes place 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. A young man named Keda sets off on his first hunt with his tribe led by his father who’s the chief. While traveling to find the great buffalo herd, Keda’s father teaches him how to track, how to use the sun and the night stars to find his way home, and how to be a warrior.

Once they discover the whereabouts of the herd, the hunt begins. During all the chaos of running and charging buffalo, Keda is injured and believed to be dead. His grieving father is forced to leave his son’s body behind in order to return with the rest of the tribe. They cannot delay in bringing their kill home or the winter weather will close the path to their village. However, it turns out Keda isn’t dead and when he awakes, fighting off hungry vultures, he quickly realizes he’s injured and has been abandoned by his tribe.

Determined to make it back to his parents, a frightened and desperate Keda begins his long and perilous journey across the wilderness. It’s not long before he comes across a pack of wolves and has to fend them off, even injuring one. Keda takes pity on the wounded animal who has also been abandoned by its pack and instead of finishing it off, decides to help the wolf.

Originally enemies but now needing each other to survive, Keda and his new companion, who he names Alpha, travel the dangerous wasteland together facing countless threats and overwhelming odds to get back home.


Filmed brilliantly in IMAX, Alpha is a compelling and visually stunning adventure full of suspense, tension, and a few touching moments. It’s an epic adventure told in a similar style to the classic Disney adventure films of the 1970s.

Kodi Smit-McPhee delivers an extremely effective performance as a young man on the verge of becoming an adult who struggles with his doubts about what his future holds. He must delve deep inside himself to find the courage his father knows he has, and he must put to use all the teachings of his father if he’s to survive the dangerous and long trip home. Smit-McPhee captures the fear, doubt, strength, and kindness of the character perfectly.

The film is beautifully shot, capturing a breathtaking world long gone complete with mountains, rivers, desolate lands, caves, and the last freezing of the Ice Age. Director Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli, Dead Presidents) brings the audience into this astonishing adventure, providing the illusion of being immersed in rivers, climbing mountains, and on a buffalo hunt with the characters up on the screen. It’s truly a visual delight seen in IMAX.

Captivating and engaging, Alpha is an exciting adventure film about the origin story of man’s best friend that will entertain and surprise audiences. It’s a howling good time.

GRADE: B

Release Date: August 17, 2018

Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense peril

Directed By: Albert Hughes




Kevin Finnerty

Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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