Alpha: A boy and his dog adventure in a cold, cruel world

Life in Europe 20,000 years ago was rough, with beasts around every turn ready to eat you.

But the boy at the center of Alpha is able to befriend one of those hungry predators, and in doing so, starts a beautiful “best” friendship that we all enjoy today.

The boy, Keda, goes on the hunt with his tribe, but is left for dead by his dad, and his people, after a nasty fall.

A confrontation with a wolf pack ends up putting Keda in the caregiver role for a wounded wolf.

The snarling animal begrudgingly accepts Keda’s help, and food, and eventually they create a bond, and a friendship that will save both of their lives.

The film is gorgeous, and the first half does a good job of capturing life in the last Ice Age, and how rough it was for people, what with sabre tooth tigers roaming around.

It also does a good job of teasing future, every day dog-people interactions (look, it’s the first dog bowl, first fetch, first dog whistle, etc…). But the last third of the movie, when stakes get even higher for dog and boy, the film loses some steam, and the ending feels muted.

Still, if you love those four legged friends who are always happy to see you when you walk through the door, there’s enough here to put a happy smile on your face. And Chuck, the wolf-dog hybrid star of the movie, gives a great performance, right up there with Toto.