Alpha and Omega (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Alpha and Omega (2010)

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Andrew DISLIKEFor those of you with pets, or can easily come into contact with one, I'd like you to try an experiment.  Extend your index finger until it resembles firm line.  At this point, I would like you to gently poke the animal.  At this point, if everything Alpha and Omega has taught me is true, your pet should go careening off the side of the walls like an uncontrollable batch of Flubber.  After the pet has come to rest, it will gently dance in the pale moonlight to some lesser known 40's jazz hit.

If none of that made any sense then congratulations, you qualify for barely comprehending the bland mass that is Alpha and Omega.  It's a film that takes place in what is ostensibly a national forrest park where wolves dance the night away and never-ever kill anything.  In fact, there's a contingent of wolves that is trying to get the rest of the pack to "go organic" and eat berries instead of meat.  I resisted the urge to angrily scribble into my notebook that meat is organic but now faced with a keyboard I find I can't overcome the irony.

The plot is about as off the shelves ready to be filmed and forgotten as they come.  Kate (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) is being groomed by her father Winston (Danny Glover) to take her place as the Alpha Wolf in her pack.  On the other end of the scale there's Humphrey (Jusin Long), a ne'er do well rogueish Omega Wolf with a heart of gold and a willingness to play.  There's a strict law that Alphas and Omegas cannot fraternize, but Humphrey hears the call of the wild and would like to fratern with Kate.

This musical number made me uncomfortable on a number of levels.

There's also a bunch of stuff about the other pack of wolves in their park and how the two tribes will go to war unless Kate marries someone from their tribe.  Kate and Humphrey are taken away to another park by humans who want them to mate and repopulate the wolf population.  How they expected to repopulate the park with only two wolves remains to be seen, but is a leap of logic that would display a level of thought not demonstrated by this film.

Only the very young and very easily amused of children will find anything redeeming in this film.  It's not offensively bad, but is willing to only do the bare minimum to make sure that action progresses onscreen.  Since there's not much in the way of plot (do YOU think they'll get together gentle reader?) then the film is forced to rely on the old kids film standby of humor.  That might not be bad if there were some funny jokes to tell, but since this is the post-Shrek world it has to be done with a pound of smarm, a dash of pop-culture and a complete lack of timing.

There are golf playing birds, dance sequences and sledding to fill out the requisite "human" traits to provide to the characters.  All this is tied into some of the most inexplicably bad animation that I've seen in a feature film since Hoodwinked.  The animals move into and out of their backgrounds as if they were painted backdrops from a 50's comedy with Doris Day.  There's not even the slightest attempt to make the nature seem as though it has weight and presence, and even less of an attempt to make sure that the animation follows any kind of internal logic.

Any resemblance to that other well known animated stampede are purely coincidental.

That's why I posited that experiment to you in the beginning.  The wolves, with very little nudging, will begin flipping around like Ninja Turtles one second and then fall flat as a rock the next.  Then they'll behave as though they are in a world deprived of friction, sliding endlessly around the wilderness until a pine cone finally stops them in their tracks for no reason.  The wolves themselves have hardly any personality and fulfill their duties regarding the autopilot plot with a minimum amount of interest and character engagement.

There are two directors for the film so it's difficult to know who's influence is felt where, but the biggest hint about the films quality comes with the credits.  Flashing onscreen along with the personell who worked on the film are the character sketches and concept art for Kate and the others.  It seems as though the idea fo the film never progressed beyond "cute wolves play in snow".  That makes for a fine internet meme, but to spend an hour and a half on it is asking for a wee bit too much.

Worse still, this was the late Dennis Hopper's last movie. D It was touching for the makers to dedicate the film to his memory, but I can't help but wish that it was in How To Train Your Dragon or Despicable Me...anything really.

The excuse "it's for kids, lighten up" seems tailor made for this kind of inoffensive mediocrity but our kids deserve a lot better than this.  At the very least bust out a Berenstain Bears book.  At least there's something to be learned in those hallowed pages.

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Alpha and Omega (2010)

Directed by Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck.
Written by Chris Denk and Steve Moore.
Starring Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper.

Posted by Andrew

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