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Alpha

97 minutes | Rated PG-13

    Alpha takes place 20,000 years ago and follows the story of a young man named Keda played by Kodi Smit-McPhee.  Keda is the son of his tribe’s chief and will be allowed to join in the annual hunt for the great beast.  He proves himself ready by producing the sharpest spearhead.  His mother is worried that her son is not ready.  The chief assures her that he will be fine.  During the journey to the hunting grounds, Keda is shown the markers left by his ancestors to guide the way, and given the marks that will guide him towards home in the night.  Things take a bit of a turn when Keda refuses to strike the deathblow on a boar that the tribe has wounded. One night, upon spotting a pack of wolves, Keda’s father teaches him of the Alpha wolf. The tribe encounters a large group of buffalo-like creatures and attempts to herd them over a cliff. One of the creatures manages to toss Keda over the edge of the cliff. He is knocked unconscious and lands on a small ledge on the side of the cliff. His father is grief stricken and wants to try to rescue him, but, the others convince him that it is impossible to reach him and that he is probably dead.  The tribe performs their usual rites for someone lost during the hunt and return home.

      Keda awakens on the ledge to a vulture pecking at him. He swats the bird away then realizes that his ankle is broken. Bracing his leg between two stones, he pops the bone back into place and ties a stick to his leg as a splint. He then manages to climb down the cliff. Using the markings he attempts to find his way home. One night he is attacked by a pack of wolves. Keda manages to wound one of them and make it to relative safety in a tree. The next morning, he discovers that the wolves have left the injured wolf behind, much as his tribe has done to him. He tends to the animals wound and returns to trying to get home only to find that the wolf is now following him.

      If you like dogs and enjoy looking at beautifully filmed landscapes you will love this movie. Although all of the dialogue is spoken in some tribal language and subtitled in English, you almost don’t need to understand what they are saying as the visuals and the expressions of the actors tell the story very well. All of the actors, most of which I haven’t heard of, did an excellent job of expressing the emotions of their characters.

       The only issue I had with the movie is that some text at the beginning sets the movie in Europe. Some of the rock formations and the buffalo/ bison like animals would seem to contradict a European setting. According to the closing credits, much of the movie was filmed in Alberta, Canada. Regardless of where it is supposed to take place, this is still an excellent movie.

      Alpha is rated PG-13 for some violence and a few gory images, it should be fine for most people. I rate it four and a half out of five stone spearheads.