Lionsgate // 2010 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard // January 12th, 2011
A Fun-Filled Movie The Whole Pack Can Enjoy!
"So why is this called rabbit pooh mountain?"
Kate (Hayden Panettiere, Heroes) and Humphrey (Justin Long, Drag Me To Hell) are two wolves at opposite ends of the social divide. While Kate is an Alpha, and the daughter of the leader of the Western Pack, Winston (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon), Humphrey is an Omega, and as such is considered bottom of the pile.
In an attempt to bring stability and unite the regions two warring packs, Kate is forced into an arranged marriage with Garth (Chris Carmack), the son of Tony (Dennis Hopper, Apocalypse Now), the leader of the Eastern Pack. But when Humphrey and Kate are captured by park rangers and sent to a nature reserve in Idaho, the plans go awry, endangering the lives of the Western Pack.
Miles from home, Kate and Humphrey must work together if they are to stand any chance of returning to their pack. As the two wolves embark on their adventure they come to realize that, despite the strict rules of their society, they share many qualities, from which a strong bond develops. But will their love be enough to bring peace to the warring packs, if they ever get home?
Lacking in both imagination and finesse -- not to mention originality -- Alpha and Omega is more a test of endurance than the fun-filled family movie it would have you believe it to be. As Danny Glovers' Winston says, "Scraps and bones is no kind of dinner," and as Alpha and Omega proves, they are no substitute for a good story either.
Released theatrically in 2010, Alpha and Omega faced some stiff competition from the likes of Despicable Me and Shrek Forever After in its attempts to take a share of the lucrative family film market. Worse still, it had the misfortune to be released in the same year as Toy Story 3, a film that once again saw Pixar shatter audiences expectations of what an animated feature could achieve. In all honesty, Alpha and Omega has no place being mentioned in the same sentence as Toy Story 3, but it does bring a little credence to the notion that, rather than inspiring other animation studios, Pixar have instead transcended their rivals efforts, to the point that -- with only the rarest of exceptions -- they no longer even try to compete with John Lasseter and co. Alpha and Omega is a perfect example of this apparent apathy, with not even a hint of the beautifully nuanced storylines or rich characters we have come to expect, year-on-year, from Pixar.
Instead Alpha and Omega is built from a screenplay that lacks even a shred of originality, and is so uneventful that it actually becomes difficult to follow. Taking the form of a roadtrip for a large chunk of its running time, the film splutters from one scene to the next with rarely a glimmer of plot development, let alone anything resembling a well crafted character arc. Heaven forbid children may actually want any depth in their entertainment. If only the writers had spent as much time on the plot as they did the infantile humor, we may have had something half decent, but, as it stands, Alpha and Omega is most memorable for proving that you can have too many jokes about wolves being smashed in the crotch or being bit on the butt. Even the obligatory "zany" characters, in this case a golf playing Goose and his caddy -- a duck, naturally -- fail to raise a smile, let alone a full-blown belly laugh.
The film's emotional core -- that being the burgeoning relationship between Humphrey and Kate -- falls desperately short. You'll care not whether the two Wolves get together or end up crumpled under the feet of stampeding caribou; though by the time the film reaches the hour mark you'll certainly be nudging towards the latter. The film's final desperate attempt at drawing an emotional response from the viewer, whereby it suggests the death of a lead character -- only for them to make a miraculous recovery -- fails on a fundamental level. As previously stated, the writers neglected to take the time to afford their characters any depth, and, as such, who freakin' cares if they live or die?
And yet, had the film offered even an ounce of excitement, it could be forgiven some of these flaws. But needless to say, Alpha and Omega's is once again found wanting, and all but the most undemanding of children will find any worth in this poorly conceived animation.
The voice cast, though blessed with a broad range of acting talent, is uniformly dull -- though none are done any favors by the mundane script. With all due respect, when even a true great like Dennis Hopper is unable to bring any sparkle to the film, it's hard to expect a great deal from Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere.
Though released theatrically in 3D, Alpha and Omega -- for now at least -- is only getting a 2D release on DVD and Blu-ray, and without the added wow factor of the third dimension, the animation is revealed to be depressingly bland. That said, the DVD contains an impressive 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, which is particularly rich in color. Sharp, and in possession of deep black levels, the DVD presentation of Alpha and Omega actually exceeds the quality of the animation. The 5.1 soundtrack is almost as impressive. Though slightly front heavy, the mix is certainly well balanced, with the score and dialogue both perfectly clear.
A series of featurettes, which each detail a different element of the film's production, offer little real interest; much like the series of deleted scenes and educational materials that round out the package.
While it would perhaps be unfair to consider Alpha and Omega a disappointment (who, after all, had high expectations for it?) the film can certainly be called a failure. Rather than attempting to add anything of worth to the animated family film genre, Alpha and Omega is quite happy to lazily crib from other movies and hope its bright colors and voice cast can hide its many flaws.
Even as a passing diversion for young children, parents are best advised to give Alpha and Omega a miss.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Interactive Games
* Official Site