Alpha movie poster

The thrilling account of how a resourceful tribe of homo sapiens came to dine on buffalo that opens the picture works best when viewed in screen-lengthening, depth-defying IMAX 3D. Once the dust settles, there’s a good (so-so?) thirty minutes of trudging hitherto well-trod tundra before little lost cave boy Keda’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee) quest for fur is first met by modern man’s best friend. To be sure, there are moments of jaw-dropping spectacle, but not enough to compensate for the overall familiarity of the material. (It doesn’t help that some of the CG long shots take on the appearance of a natural history museum diorama.) The players speaking in authentic Ice Age gibberish could amount to a costly turn off. Most adults pass on subtitles; what makes Columbia Pictures think that kids are going to react any differently? Finally, I’m delighted to report that it doesn’t end in any shades of Yeller. Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) directs. 2018.

Scott Marks

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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