Alpha and Omega 3D *½
Alpha and Omega 2D *
One of the lower tier contenders vying for the family audience over this year’s October half term holiday, Alpha and Omega is the latest computer animated feature from a small animation studio – in this case, the little known Crest Animation – to try and compete with the big players in the business.
And, on paper at least, it certainly seems to have what it takes to stand up to big films like Despicable Me and Legend of the Guardians. It has a family friendly concept with significant potential for adventure and laughs, it has a surprisingly impressive vocal cast for a production as small as this and is presented in fashionable 3D. It also boasts one of the final performances of actor Dennis Hopper who sadly died in May this year and to whom this film is dedicated. That won’t mean a thing to younger viewers of course but for accompanying adults it may provide a greater incentive for seeing it. It’s a good job there is one more performance from Hopper yet to come, however, as Alpha and Omega would be a pretty lousy film to go out on. You see, this film may sound good on paper but in practice it is anything but.
Although they’re members of the same wolf pack, Kate (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) and Humphrey (voiced by Justin Long) are worlds apart. Kate is at the top of the pack – an Alpha, devoted to duty. Humphrey, an Omega, lives for the moment and is right down at the bottom. When they were younger they were the best of friends but pressure from the leader of the pack, Kate’s father Winston (voiced by Danny Glover), has forced them apart and when a rivalry between the pack and another headed by Tony (voiced by Dennis Hopper) can only be resolved by the marriage of Kate to Tony’s son Garth (voiced by Chris Carmack), they seem set to be driven even farther apart. However, things change when Kate and Humphrey are captured by rangers and taken hundreds of miles away from their Canadian homelands. To get back to their home they must embark on a perilous cross-country trek, encountering grizzly bears, prickly porcupines and golfing birds Marcel (voiced by Larry Miller) and Paddy (voiced by Eric Price). Meanwhile, back home, conflict is developing between the opposing packs as Garth begins to fall for Kate’s sister Lilly (voiced by Christina Ricci). As Kate and Humphrey continue their amazing journey they unexpectedly find that they actually make a pretty good team. But will they make it home in time before disaster strikes their pack and will they realize their true feelings for one another?
In an industry where seven major animation studios routinely release films featuring spectacular high quality computer animated visuals, CG animated films by smaller animation companies can often suffer by comparison. Alpha and Omega, however, doesn’t need to be compared with better films to come across badly, it simply isn’t very good in its own right. While occasionally proving rather cute and generally being passable, the animation doesn’t really look that good, just seeming cheap and lacking both texture and detail. while the 3D is not utilized to its full potential, adding a sense of depth but, aside from a few shots featuring a waterfall, snow falling from the sky and some clouds, adding little to the overall experience of the film. What really lets the film down though is not the visuals but the writing. The story is so completely predictable that not only will you feel like you’ve seen it before, you actually will have (unless you’re a really young child anyway), the dialogue is just weak and obvious and the film is largely devoid of laughs, the humour based entirely around lame gags and puns that only the youngest children are likely to giggle at and even then not much. Suffice to say with mediocre dialogue, the impressive vocal cast is simply wasted on this film. So, Alpha and Omega is a film that will only entertain the most undemanding of youngsters and will probably bore everyone else. Don’t waste your money on this when there are so many better choices for family viewing out at the moment. Of this year’s half term releases, this film is definitely the omega of the pack.
Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)
© BRWC 2010.
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