Creative Commons license icon

Review: 'Alpha and Omega'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (6 votes)

The documentation of Alpha and Omega (trailer) is as much a cliché as the content. Its closing disclaimer assures us that the story is completely fictitious; all well and good, yet it continues with: "No identification with actual .... products is intended or should be inferred."

This could only have been added out of tradition, as this is little more than a rip-off of prior animated films, Disney's in particular. The only difference is that the originals did a good job.

This isn't a well-known studio's production (indeed the credits say that it's split between the US and India) and unfortunately that is very clear. While the scenery looks rather good, the wolves – intended to be the focus of your attention – needed a lot more detail in their models. This is particularly noticeable in the tails, which often seem to have been tacked on at the end; and worse, in an incredibly poor design choice, their hair. Wolves don't have human head hair, and its inclusion does not do the characters any favours.

Kate, Eve and LillyMost characters don't stand out on their own in any way; the exceptions are sometimes for the wrong reasons. Eve (Kate's mother), for example, stands out for having a nose at least twice the size of anyone else in the film. Despite her lack of aesthetic appeal, she makes up for it with one or two good lines:

If any of you wolves have hurt my daughter, I will personally rip out your eyes and shove them down your throat so you can see my claws tear your carcass open!

Character-wise, nearly everyone is unbelievably shallow. You don't need to spend more than a few seconds listening to their lines to learn everything there is to know about them. The one exception is Lilly, who we see keep her feelings a secret. Humphrey, who as a main character ought to be one of the more complicated ones, is a joker; apart from that, there's really nothing more to him. He has feelings for Kate, but there is no subtlety, and never any real 'feel' to them.

The story is decent, but it's been seen a thousand times before. Aside from being derivative, the biggest disappointment is how the quadrupedal characters occasionally feel the need to stand on two legs and dance. They look even worse in that pose and The Lion King showed it was entirely possible to have an excellent quadrupedal dance sequence.

Following on that thought: Disney made a point to include songs, often excellent ones, into their films. Alpha and Omega didn't copy that though, which worked against them. In a train scene, which reminded me of Spirit's train scene in Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron, we get a strange choral howling and symphonic music. This is a really beautiful scene; you can feel a climax building, a climax that could be reached with a powerful song. Instead we scrabble on the lower slopes of the peak, failing to climax and abruptly changing tone, as well as seeing the animators stretching events (again) to conveniently suit the plot.

If I had to find a single unique feature in the story, it would have to be the lack of an evil character. There is a conflict between two wolf packs, but neither comes off as bad; one of them is just a bit mental. Strangely, there is no second-in-command to balance the leadership and the packs blindly do what they are told, which makes the ending a laughable, bipolar, roller-coaster of battles and peace over the smallest issues. It isn't even slightly satisfying, as no one seems to have much reaction to near-death of one of the pack members and the viewer is left with a bunch of questions about issues that the film appears to have just forgotten.

In the end, Alpha and Omega seems less like a proper film and more like a film student spent his time cutting together his favourite scenes from old Disney films and, when told that wasn't allowed, changed it enough to look slightly different. If it were a parody, it would have succeeded. As it's own film, it is a failure. It can still be enjoyed, perhaps especially in a group where you play 'spot the inspiration.'

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (6 votes)

Yes, this film was hilariously bad.

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

I'd have to agree.

It's not the kind of movie you'd honestly enjoy in a vacuum, but rather one that's good to get together with friends and riff on.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Uncanny valley.

That is all.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Wikipedia's article on "Alpha and Omega" says, "Produced on a $20 million budget, the film has been declared a financial success, and is Lionsgate's highest-grossing animated feature to date." Can we expect a sequel, then?

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

D:)   

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Yup. If you go onto Crest Animation Production's Wikipedia page it says Alpha and Omega 2 will be coming in 2012-2013.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

D:    

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

THAT IS NOT THE THE UNCANNY VALLEY.

THE UNCANNY VALLEY IS NOT THE END-ALL, BE-ALL OF CREEPINESS.

IN FACT, THE UNCANNY VALLEY IS, BY DEFINITION, A VERY SMALL, VERY SPECIFIC PART OF THE "CREEPY" TERRAIN.

The "Uncanny Valley" effect occurs when something approaches near human, but is a little off. The vast majority of characters in Alpha and Omega are nowhere near human, so do not fall into the terrain of the Uncanny Valley.

I don't know why Uncanny Valley is always capitalized, either. It's not a real valley. But, anyway.

You are probably experiencing a reaction to what has best been described by Noel Carroll (he's got an umlaut in his first name, but whatever) in A Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart, which he uses the word "liminal" or "interstitial" to describe the appeal of certain types of monsters. Basically, monsters are often created (by the author, not mad scientist) using two anti-thetical states, such as living/dead (anything "undead," natch), animal/human (anything furry, natch) and even solid/liquid (think The Blob).

Anyway, Carroll explains that these kinds of paradoxical monsters often create a paradoxical reaction in the viewer; one of horror (defined by Carroll as a mixture of both fear and disgust) and, at the same time, fascination. He uses this to explain the "paradox of horror," i.e. how people can enjoy fear and disgust. Basically, he says, they don't; they enjoy the "fascination" of monsters. It's a bit weak, in my opinion, as a answer to the paradox of horror, but the theory of "liminality" as a source of both negative and positive reactions works well enough on its own.

Furries are obviously fascinated by a certain type of "liminal monster" (using the definition of monster as "unnatural" rather than "evil"); certain people also have an almost virulent reaction to furry art. Given Carroll's theory, it can be seen that both reactions are entirely natural and even complementary.

The characters in Alpha and Omega exhibit a high level of liminality, but in a way you are unused to (human traits overlaying an animal template, opposite of the usual furry method of animal overlaying a human template); this is why you find them creepy.

SO STOP SAYING UNCANNY VALLEY LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS, 'CAUSE YOU DON'T.

Unless you were creeped out by the few human characters. That was probably the Uncanny Valley, then.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Creepy designs are creepy.

Why argue?

Your rating: None

Because I am a died in the wool horror fan, almost as much as I am a furry fan. There is creepy, and then there is creepy.

To quote Stephen King (from memory):

"On one level, David Cronenberg's Shivers asks how we feel about newfound levels of sexual promiscuity and their consequences in modern society. On another level, it asks how we feel about a leech jumping out of a mailslot and attaching to our face. These are not the same areas of unease at all."

Your rating: None

"The "Uncanny Valley" effect occurs when something approaches near human, but is a little off. The vast majority of characters in Alpha and Omega are nowhere near human, so do not fall into the terrain of the Uncanny Valley."

To some extent I think you're splitting hairs. When you're talking about empathy with anthropomorphic characters, the issue is how closely they fit our image of "human".

On the other hand, the Uncanny Valley* is specific about relation to *realistic* depictions, so you're right in that sense.

On the other other hand, language changes! :)

By the way, I wrote an article on this subject for the Association for Computing Machinery -- see http://www.computer.org/portal/web/csdl/doi/10.1109/MCG.2008.79 . I can send it to you privately: Contact me at howling -at- tgeller dot etcetera.

* Capitalized by tradition, really. It's actually a translation of a Japanese phrase used by Masahiro Mori in his seminal 1970 paper on the subject. It should properly be in quotes, but that's unwieldy. Eh, you're probably right... it could be lower-cased at this point.

Your rating: None

Perhaps it is capitalized because it has become a real place over time. ;-)

Your rating: None

Located near Eerie Indiana ;)

Your rating: None

The "Uncanny Valley" effect occurs when something approaches near human, but is a little off. The vast majority of characters in Alpha and Omega are nowhere near human, so do not fall into the terrain of the Uncanny Valley.

I don't think it is specific to humans, as many animals, especially the Canidae family are familiar enough to humans to be able to identify with on some level and to have traits distinguishable between some kinds of healthy vs. abnormal. The uncanny valley can just be when increased realism in general triggers various negative reactions to subtle issues. Although abstraction and stylisation can subdue or defuse those triggers, and the use of animals would probably act like some amount of additional abstraction compared to similarly styled humans.

It is kind of hard to be so definite about the uncanny valley thing though, since the vast majority of all the stuff written on it is really just conjecture and speculation to explain some people's personal experience. Up until recently, there was little to no actual attempts to research and test some of the ideas related to it. If I remember correctly, recently there was something that suggested the motion and animation was one of the cues people could be quite sensitive to, and it would seem quite possible that even a stylised animated wolf could trigger that for some people if the motions were exaggerated and cartoonish. I haven't seen the film myself to directly comment on that.

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

Basically, you start with an animal, and slowly star adding human features to it.

You do NOT do it the opposite way. The wolves in this here movie had faces too human and thus a bit creepy.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Dude. Chill out. That huge comment was not needed.

Wow such opinions, such need for expression, wow...

Your rating: None

"The characters in Alpha and Omega exhibit a high level of liminality, but in a way you are unused to (human traits overlaying an animal template, opposite of the usual furry method of animal overlaying a human template); this is why you find them creepy."

I my self don't find their designs creepy at all. I think it's that what so many (Or some that is) are currently used to. Some people who are used to the usual Furry art (That has often shared the same "human" range) may find this one "creepy" because it's a little far on the edge of that usual range that so many Furry art has had. So for a guy who expands on accepting even more designs (Even closer to Human as some Furry art has), this is probably why I like this one..
If the "usual" Furry art was new in the now, (Pretending we never had all the Anthropomorphic stuff for the past centuries), I'm pretty sure some people will find those kinds of designs creepy as well, because they are not used to it, yet. I think it's the theory of seeing something so unknown, then accepting it as a Culture or something sometime later if people just got used to it, know what I mean? "Lot's often fear the unknown"

I also disagree that it's the "Human than adding non-human animal" way since clearly they still look like they started out as "normal" looking wolves, then they added human "parts", but for the faces, they just added much human rather than little. To me, it still fits how "Anthropomorphic" creatures are normally made, just an even more different art style of them and that they are a bit closer to the, HuMaNz, haha. Anyway, I think "Furry" has it's length, they could go so far that even a cat with a 100 % human face could still count. Have you seen those types of walking dogs with Abs before? O-o

Sorry for the old reply, you don't have to reply this, though your comment was still for some reason interesting.. I think.
-Note: If this comments brings too much attention on the website, maybe even unusual arguments, then can I ask for this comment to be deleted? I don't want to cause a huge drama or something, also if it's not OK to comment on old areas, then I don't mind for it to get deleted either.-

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (10 votes)

I like how you left out the often mentioned critic for those who actually know about dog breeding.

Around the section where they're first going to go "howl at the moon" a couple of female pack members are talking and you can hear one say, "It totally relaxes the knot." Then there's the whole concept of, "howling at the moon."

When I first seen the previews, I thought the movie to be of a children's movie, I was mistaken.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Your comment made my day.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (4 votes)

I didn't remember that line. Even if I did though I wasn't going to go after factual inaccuracies. It was a movie, a fantasy. If you want it to be accurate then you'll have to watch a documentary.

It still seems like a children's movie to me...

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I'm not saying every furry who defends the right of a children's movie to include lines like "It totally relaxes the knot" is an actual zoophile.

But I'd be surprised if there wasn't a strong correlation.

Seriously, people. I suppose you were OK with Mike Myers making erection jokes in The Cat in the Hat as well!

Your rating: None

It's actually perfectly logical that "Alpha and Omega" should look like a Disney rip off. It was produced by Richard Rich, who directed "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Black Cauldron" for Disney in the 1980s (classics only if you believe Disney's publicity that every Disney animated feature is a classic), and directed "The Swan Princess", the most obvious Disney imitation of all, for his own Rich Animation Studios in the 1990s.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Why did he do this...

I mean,... you can this concept and make a decent movie out of it.

But he didn't.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

As far as I remember The Swan Princess was good. Of course it then had a whole trail of sequels which is never good for something. Unless a sequel is planned from the start it's unlikely to be any good.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

I think about halfway through I realized, much to my chagrin, I was liking it.

It was about the part when emo-doo wolf volunteered to give rejected suitor a tour. I knew exactly where that subplot was going, but that probably explains why I liked it. It's sappy Disney crap, but it works. Doesn't make it good; in fact, makes it worse.

Bra scene also tickled me, though this time it was the only Dreamworks "edgy with a capital E for Everyone rating" joke that worked, rather than "overused Disney magic moment" that worked.

Those cliches work on me, man.

Probably top ten favorite bad movies.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The movie was okay, I guess. I wasent particularily moved by the storyline but a friend of mine who is all mister tough guy, always serious never cries, actualy cried during the final scenes. did anybody else find the end emothional?

Personal I prefer Balto to Alpha and omega.

Your rating: None

"The story is decent, but it's been seen a thousand times before."

While I do disagree with this review, and since the designs are there main purpose as "furry designs", I would ask, are you saying that it would of been "better" if the main idea was changed to something it's not?
Or are you suggesting that they could of added more to it (Being fine that way), like more surprising moments without changing the idea done on purpose?

I think it's very flawed to bring out a "general idea" as a flaw, just because it's been done before. It's like saying that we should avoid the idea that the "good guys" will win at the end of every movie we mostly see. Better example: We should avoid making a "love story" now..

The strange thing about the story idea being brought out is "Why this movie" all of a sudden? Why are you fine with other movies being similar, but not Alpha and Omega? What if there was a group that always wanted to see two wolves fall in love? I've never seen that entire idea before, and I might like it. Even if I seen the general idea being used already. I've also seen a lot of fans loving this movie for what it is, and that does count as feedback, which shows that this movie does actually work for groups.

This isn't meant to be a mean comment or anything, but I believe it's interesting to talk about.

I also know this is just an opinion of you but it's in a review, which may often be used to tell Furries to avoid or not avoid (Correct me if wrong).. However, it seems very bias about half of it, which serves no feedback value much to the makers; because some things you didn't like has been done on purpose for certain audiences..

Then again, you probably are suggesting "more" to it rather than "attacking the whole thing". Which is more understandable kind of if so.

Didn't see the whole movie but I did look around it. Seems fine for what they tried aiming for generally. Especially for a small money making business.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <img> <b> <i> <s> <blockquote> <ul> <ol> <li> <table> <tr> <td> <th> <sub> <sup> <object> <embed> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <dl> <dt> <dd> <param> <center> <strong> <q> <cite> <code> <em>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This test is to prevent automated spam submissions.

About the author

Rakuen Growlitheread storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, anime and power metal

I'm a fur from South Africa, now living in Austria, who got into the fandom through my interest in pokemon and writing fanfiction. Outside of furry, I have spend a lot of my time in gaming (particularly Dota 2) and science.