It may surprise you to learn that the denizens of “Europe, 20,000 years ago” – as the prehistoric adventure Alpha situates us – rocked some beautifully tailored fur-lined parkas and cosy boots that look a lot like Uggs. Evidently, facts aren’t terribly important here (even the movie’s title comes from a civilization that’s still millennia away), but if you can get past that, there’s a moderately gripping tale of survival and natural kinship to be had, one in the long-forgotten vein of 1983’s Never Cry Wolf.

Teenage Keda (The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) has a stern but loving father to impress: “Hunting the Great Beast” is a rite of passage that’s arrived for him. But after Keda is flung off a high ledge by a charging buffalo, his tribe assumes the worst. The kid survives the ordeal, though, and, left alone in the wild, comes to befriend a relatively sweet-natured wolf that he muzzles and that nurses him back to health.

The film works best during its (too-brief) getting-to-know-you section, which balances humour against snarly danger. Alpha makes the most of gorgeous British Columbia locations and occasional slickness, making for a raw-boned survival movie for children and parents alike.

By Joshua Rothkopf | 04 Sep 2018


DirectorAlbert Hughes
CastingKodi Smit-McPhee, Morgan Freeman, Natassia Malthe