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wildanimals' Review of Alpha and Omega

rated it: posted: Jun 03, 2015
Reviews: 47 | Animated Enthusiast
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Alpha and Omega was released at a time when wolves were becoming quite taboo in the elite world of DeviantArt, due in part to their overuse in comics and some of the crazier aspects of their fanbase - a.k.a 'wolfaboos.' As you can imagine, its reception was not particularly warm, which is a shame really, because it's not everyday you get a feature film which features wolves as the protagonists. While DeviantArt has no shortage of comics, stories and cartoons with wolves as the good guys, in the wider world of Western animation, their role is usually limited to that of trying (and failing) to eat the main characters. Would 'Alpha and Omega' become a real game-changer in the world of animation?

The answer, of course, is a big fat no. But it's not as horrendous as some might have you believe.

Humphrey and Kate are two wolves who come from opposite ends of the social order. Kate is the daughter of the Alpha pair, and is expected to follow all her duties as future leader of the pack. Humphrey, on the other hand, is a low ranking Omega wolf whose life revolves around goofing off and acting as expendible cannon fodder in ugly situations. When their pack comes into conflict with a rival pack, Kate is engaged to the rival alpha's son in order to unite them. However, she and Humphrey are captured for a relocation program in Idaho, and have to work together in order to find their way home. Romance, grizzly bears and near brushes with death ensue, and it's pretty clear how this whole thing is going to end.

Alpha and Omega is as predictable as you can imagine, but it's a fun ride nonetheless. The animation on most of the characters is average to sub-par, and the anatomy (especially on the female wolves) can become so awkward that its detracts from the whole scene. However, Kate and Humphrey are both enjoyable characters, and manage to bring some freshness to a tired old stereotype. Kate is a stickler for the rules and tradition, but she isn't a stick-in-the-mud either, and there's no heavy-handed message about how fun is a good thing and she just needs to lighten up, etc. Humphrey is predictably silly, but as other reviewers have noticed, he is also intelligent and his playfulness in many ways is reflective of that. The relationship between the two feels far more natural than it has any right to be.

The humour in this film goes from reasonable to completely dire. The two geese and Kate's passive-aggressive mother are good for a few laughs, but the recurrence of scatological and sexual references comes way too close to 'Foodfight' territory for comfort. The wolves are also far too over-anthropomorphized, in my view. The fact that they can easily understand human concepts such as marriage, state names and national parks (how?) undermines the believability of the story. It would have been much better if done in a more naturalistic, 'Jungle Book' or 'Watership Down' type way - where the wolves have their own names for places, customs and other phenomena.

As mentioned before, the story isn't anything new. However, the film does get a few decent action sequences out of it - one scene involving a mudslide and a vine I found particularly inventive. The wolves' world was also beautiful to look at, especially the backgrounds, which are reminiscent of 'Brother Bear.' It's just a shame that the characters living in it look like finger puppets in comparison.

So, is 'Alpha and Omega' a failure when it comes to exonerating our friend the wolf? I'm not sure if it will convert any livestock farmers, but as a cute film about wolves, it's harmless fun. When it fails, it fails hard, but when it succeeds, it succeeds quite well. Recommended for the wolf lover in your lives. 6/10.

animated movie Alpha and Omega © Lions Gate Films / Crest Animation Productions
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Alpha and Omega
1.83 stars / 9 ratings
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