Review: 'Alpha and Omega'
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.
Most 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.'