Friday, January 21, 2011

Film Yap: Alpha and Omega

Everybody likes to rail on the big bad studios. “Look at them with their suits and how they hate artists. So evil…” Yet animation seems to be a bit backwards. The three major film studios dealing with animation are Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney. So why are they taking risks with their storytelling and smaller films like Alpha and Omega aren’t?

This is a lower budgeted movie than what those studios are dealing with, but that’s not an excuse for its quality. If there is a good story or characters at its core, mediocre animation can be ignored. Yet everything just feels incredibly lazy with this movie. This doesn’t feel like a story, but a calculated attempt to figure out what kids will like. “Kids like sledding right! Let’s have THREE scenes where wolves use a log as a sled!”

The animal of choice this movie is wolves. Kate is an alpha wolf and Humphrey is an omega wolf. Will they find love? That’s just about it. The two of them get separated from their tribes and they have to get back before a war starts. What follows is an incredibly dull road trip with dumb conflicts and little imagination.

Talented voice actors like Justin Long and Christina Ricci try to do what they can with very thin characters. The rest of the voice cast (Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover and Larry Miller) are just stuck being the stale children’s film archetypes.

The animation really doesn’t look good at all. During some scenes it looks like it’s a prototype version on display. The hair on the wolves never moves like hair, the scenery doesn’t feel like the characters are affecting it at all. Also there is this creepy sexual presence of the wolves. There are a lot of reproduction jokes. Characters spend a lot of time physically lusting over them and so does the movie to an extent. Female wolves will walk in slow motion with a seductive pose to the camera and at one point Kate is wearing a bra.

This is undeniable a kids’ film, not a family film. All ages will quickly become bored with this and will want to move on to films that will actually try. Yes, Dreamworks the studio behind Shrek Forever After is trying more than Lionsgate. What a strange world.

The extras are equally boring. There is a 20 minute featurette where they all talk about what a great job they did. The oddest part of this was not the quick reminder that Hopper died before this came out, but the look at the early sketches of the characters. They looked really good. Why didn’t they keep this 2D instead of making this terrible looking computer animation that was (of course) released in 3D. There is also a featurette about wolves that is…all right. There is also a deleted scene, an idiotic game, a “personality test” and animal “fun” facts. Yep!

Film: 2 Yaps

Extras: 2 Yaps

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