Cinematic Releases: A Boy and His Wolf: Alpha (2018) Reviewed

Most of the time, origin stories are reserved for superheroes, slashers, or other pop culture based characters. This time around, it's different. Now we get the tale of how dog became man's best friend. And it's just wonderful. 

At the tail end of an arduous cinematic summer comes the heart tugging survival tale of a boy and his newfound friend, a wolf. Starring a newly invigorated Kodi Smit-McPhee, this poorly marketed and ill timed release should have been a contender for audiences' eyes and ears. Instead, it's sadly doomed to the dregs of the dumping ground. 

Yo, wolf. Stop howling. You'll wake the neighborhood.

Stripping away from the comic book, science fiction, and action blockbusters of this entire season, Alpha makes a strong case for going back to baseline storytelling that's rooted in man's need to succeed against Mother Nature and all her brutal elements. Unlike most other movies we've seen over the past few months, this simplistic tale of a teenage boy that must risk it all to make his way back to his village is an absolute joy that's not going to do the great box office business it should actually be doing. 

Though there are some tension laced moments and some extremely scary scenarios, this could be a great family film that can teach children to have respect for the environment, animals, and how quickly our surroundings can change on us. Plus, the plot of familial bonds is extremely strong throughout. If anything, Alpha is filled with lessons about appreciating the knowledge of our elders, listening to the people that love us, and features a wonderful look at the bond between father and son. God, I adored this movie.  

Tonight, we're gonna watch Clan of the Cave Bear? You in?

Reliant on stunning vistas, amazing cinematography, seamless CGI work, and adoration between a human and a wild animal, Alpha is not only one of the best motion pictures of 2018 but is a great reminder that not all films need twists, turns, and massive plots. Going back to basics, this tale is reminiscent of an earlier time when an adventure story of man versus nature was enough to make a great night at the cinema. By using a much younger earth as a central character, Alpha delivers a nearly impeccable script that uses our own emotional connections to animals as a driving force. 

Director Albert Hughes (one part of the Hughes Brothers that brought us Dead Presidents, Menace II Society, and From Hell) is in near perfect form here. Breaking off from the types of films that defined his early career, he brings something back to the movies: a sense of wonder that's rooted in our very own history. 

Do not miss this movie. See it in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, 3D, or the best possible presentation you can see it in. Alpha deserves it.