Alpha and Omega

Movie Information

The Story: After being captured and sent to a nature reserve far from home, a pair of wolves must make their way back to their families. The Lowdown: Bargain-bin animation and hackneyed scripting combine for an achingly dull kiddie flick.
Score:

Genre: Animated Kiddie Comedy
Director: Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck
Starring: (voices) Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Larry Miller
Rated: PG

I will freely admit that I’m not a part of the elementary-school-aged demographic that Alpha and Omega is shooting for. If I were, would I like this movie better? More than likely, but that’s the key to a movie like this—my brain would need to revert about 20 years just to get the possibility of enjoying the film. Sure, you can cut a movie some slack if it’s made for kids. But as a critic, I can’t understand how recommending mediocre children’s films helps anyone. Quality family entertainment has been made in the past—it’s not unheard of.

Alpha and Omega is simply the latest in a long line of cheap, awful animated movies. With the ease of computer animation, these half-baked attempts at family entertainment are more and more prevalent, with the idea obviously being that kids will watch anything (never mind they’re not the ones buying the tickets). Cobble together some cheap animation that would look at home on a cereal commercial, hire some B-list talent to spout the corny jokes and bathroom humor you’ve gotten some hacks to cook up, and fame and fortune await.

OK, the film isn’t quite as bad as, say, Delgo (2008), but at least that movie had some ambition, as misguided and malformed as it might’ve been. Alpha and Omega‘s biggest shortcoming is its lack of any real spark or imagination. The bad animation or even the unexciting voice talent could be overlooked if the story were somewhat imaginative. Instead, we get something approximating a road movie for animals. Two talking wolves—an Alpha (Hayden Panettiere) and a goofy Omega (Justin Long)—are captured and sent off to a nature reserve. The rest of the film follows their attempts to get home.

The point of the movie is to teach young ’uns about peace, love and understanding, since Alpha wolves and Omega wolves aren’t supposed to fall for one another. The idea of open-mindedness is perfectly noble, but here it feels like a sop to parents and a simple case of just going through the motions.

Alpha and Omega works better as a cautionary tale, since this turned out to be Dennis Hopper’s final role. Like Anne Bancroft in Delgo or Raul Julia in Street Fighter (1995), you can never be too picky about what projects you take, because you never know which one might be your last. Rated PG for rude humor and some mild action.

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One thought on “Alpha and Omega

  1. Definitely actors should be careful, especially actors of a certain age or health history. Voice-overs seem to be a particular kiss of death (worse since the product could come out some years posthumously). There’s of course Orson Welles in TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE and even Marlon Brando. Brando’s final role? The voice of an old woman in something called BUGMAN, an animated feature which fortunately for Brando’s legacy and for all concerned, has yet to see the light of day (and I hope never will).

    Also, ALPHA AND OMEGA is a horrible title, not likely to entice kids or parents. Predictions have been made for years as to how long it would take for the glut of bad, poorly thought out CG features to end. The trend isn’t ending anymore than bad 60s/70s TV animation ended until consumer trends changed, higher quality outsourcing for stuff such as for the Disney TV shows entered the fray, and even the executives got tired of how cruddy their output looked.

    However, each of the worst of these off-brand CG feature efforts (Delgo, Battle for Terra, Atom Boy, Valiant) has effectively or nearly so killed off the studio in question. One would think that would be a warning, but as long as people still think they can make “the next Shrek” and establish their own empire, we’ll see drek like this. Or until they stop finding distributors and go straight to DVD where they belong.

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