Alpha and Omega is not without it’s charm, let me say that right away. The main character, voiced by Justin Long, is very likable and easy to follow for the duration of the movie. Voicing Humphrey, an Omega wolf who tries to ease the tension of his pack with his goofy antics, Long instantly yanks the viewer into this small wolf colony in Canada, setting up the very basic story and laying out the characters within the first few minutes. As enjoyable as Long’s voicework is in the feature, surprisingly strong I have to admit, is he able to help the film overcome it shortcomings?
What makes for the ultimate road trip? Hitchhiking, truck stops, angry bears, prickly porcupines and a golfing goose with a duck caddy. Just ask Kate and Humphrey, two wolves who are trying to get home after being taken by park rangers and shipped halfway across the country. Humphrey is an Omega wolf, whose days are about quick wit, snappy one-liners and hanging with his motley crew of fun-loving wolves and video-gaming squirrels. Kate is an Alpha: duty, discipline and sleek Lara Croft eye-popping moves fuel her fire. Humphrey’s motto – make ’em laugh. Kate’s motto – I’m the boss. And they have a thousand miles to go. Back home rival wolf packs are on the march and conflict is brewing. Only Kate and Humphrey can restore the peace. But first, they have to survive each other.
So, about the shortcomings and Long’s work able to possible overcome it…In short? No.
But this is going to be a long, rambling review, so I guess the answer is…”kinda.”
Before I go further on the plot and voice actor, I’ll start off by looking at the film’s animation quality. It was the very first thing I noticed when viewing the film and, ergo, deserves to be tackled first.
Right away, what will strike many viewers is the actual quality of the animation. Suffice it to say, it’s not exactly great. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s no better than the CGI work found on television. Textures and detail are very light, everything looks glossed over and plastic, with problematic movements and awkward animations at times. Oddly enough, the animation reminds me of AKOM’s work on the 1990’s X-Men: The Animated Series. It’s serviceable, yes, but there’s the odd mistake or weird blip that just jumps right at you, to the point where it may yank you out of the story. Unnatural movements will also catch your eye, along with the missing shadows and mis-matched lip syncing. It’s not as terrible as it may sound, honest, but it’s also not top-shelf. It’s a low budget animation feature and it is very apparent in what we see. Going from watching something like The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole to this is staggering. Of course, there is roughly $100 million or so in budget difference, so…well…it’s to be expected. Astute viewers will definitely notice the quality of the animation.
Sadly, the quality of the script is no better than the animation. It’s basic, predictable, and hits all the tropes it needs to from beginning to end. Take a look at the synopsis above and what you see there is exactly what you get. There’s no additional frills or thrills, it’s all just…there. Whilst I wouldn’t call this movie the “ultimate road trip” as the synopsis does, I also wouldn’t dismiss it, either. It’s not without it’s charm – Long’s character makes it easy to watch the movie – but it’s not really ambitious. It’s the same story we’ve seen a million times, this time done up with CGI wolves and potty humor. Everything eventually works out and the heroes are safe at the end of the day. Straightforward and simple. It won’t be confused with a Pixar flick any time soon.
Adding that, no one outside of Long really seems to be giving it their all. Yes, the movie isn’t exactly memorable and it seems like the cast for the flick opted to give performances along those rather forgettable lines. The likes of Hayden Panettiere, Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper are given characters who seem to solely act within their characters’ predictable confines, never really able to add any dimensional or personality or even flare due to the flat script. Every character does their part, as written in the script, but nothing ever does really seem natural or organic. It just…happens to get us from point A to point B.
Now, it does sound like the film has a lot going against it, and it kind of does. Forgettable voice work, a limp plot, and unimaginative animation are just a couple of the things working against it. It’s run of the mill, yes. Even with a very likable lead character, thanks to the voice work on Justin Long, the movie doesn’t really seem to break out or really take hold. Will viewers, especially the younger ones, enjoy it? Oh yes, I have no doubt. The crazy antics of Humphrey and his crew will get kids laughing, but Alpha and Omega doesn’t really offer anything outside of that. The older audience will likely find the movie a bit of a chore to sit through at times, cracking the odd smile here and there as I did, but this film definitely plays more to younger set than an all-ages crowd. If you’re looking to entertain the kids, than Alpha and Omega is worth just a Rental, nothing more. There’s a good chance the younger ones might latch on to the film and really enjoy it, as the flick is not without its charms, but it’s pretty paint-by-numbers with no real surprises.
Moving on to the Blu-ray home video presentation, it should be no surprise that Lionsgate Home Entertainment has delivered another knock-out title in terms of AV. Regardless of the quality of the main feature, this studio has managed to put out consistent, high-quality product and this title is no different.
On the audio/video front, is there any surprise that both are absolutely top-notch, crystal clear and utterly robust? The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is pretty much flawless with barely a fault to be found. There’s a small hint here and there of aliasing, but it’s so infrequent and non-existent that it is hardly worth mentioning nor will any really notice it. The sound is crystal clear and makes use of each channel of the speaker system, though the audio transfer seems mostly focused in the center and front channels. It’s a great audio transfer, yes, pretty robust and full sounding, though the film’s limited budget is apparent at times in the sounds effects and quality of the actual film effects. Still, what the movie provides, Lionsgate represents in real solid fashion.
However, the bonus material is somewhat lacking. Since this title does skew more to the younger set, I wasn’t expecting a wealth of bonus material. What we get here I suppose is adequate. Included is a roughly 20-minute “Making of” featurette, highighting the cast of the film and their respect experiences. Next is the “Wolves in the Wild” featurette, a 13 minute look at actual wild wolves and studies that were incorporated into the feature. The disc is rounded off with a single deleted scene, trivia, a quiz, a mini-game and a slew of trailers. Pretty standard stuff, really. Still, what you get here should keep the child entertained after they’re finished with the main feature. All the above content is presented in high-definition. It is also available on the Alpha and Omedga DVD release.
Overall, the bonus features do compliment the main feature well. Alpha and Omedga is a pretty standard animated film that doesn’t really try to be anything outside the ordinary. Yeah, it has the odd bit of charm to it, but it never really leaves an impact on the viewer. Outside of the great voice work by Justice Long, everything else about the film falls somewhere between mediocre to by the books. It’s basically an inoffensive harmless animated movie that younger kids will likely enjoy but adults will struggle to finish. It’s worth at least a Rental, preferably on Blu-ray over DVD.
Alpha and Omega is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.