For a few years now the movie studios have had their way with our hard earned cash as all they’ve had to do to get more of it is tack on the newly refurbished concept of watching a movie in “eye popping” 3D. They’re so desperate for said cash that they have even resorted to taking movies that were shot in 2D and magically transforming them to 3D in postproduction (see: Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, two profoundly painful movie-going experiences). But of course audiences will eventually get wise to the trick and it would seem as though the bubble is due to pop sooner rather than later. Into that picture strolls Lionsgate, hoping to cash in on the craze but most likely expediting its demise they present their inaugural 3D animated effort, Alpha and Omega, an unappealing bore that parades clichés and will have you reconsidering your pre-ordered Megamind tickets.
The story takes place in Jasper Nation Park (Canadian Rockies) and involves a weird community of wolves. To them not just everybody, but every aspect of life, is broken down into one simple question: Alpha or Omega? One main character represents each of the types. Kate (Hayden Panettiere) is a newly crowned alpha who is now acclimating to her responsibilities. She spends her time leading a team of hunters through the park as they look for caribou to kill. There is also the rival wolfpack, the Eastern pack as they are known (colored coded brown for your convenience), who are always trying to invade their hunting grounds. Her family, all alphas especially mommy, are actively involved in the dispute first by trying to physically destroy the pack and then by trying to force a truce by setting up an arranged marriage between Kate and the Easterners most eligible bachelor Garth (Chris Carmack).
Over on the Omega side of things Humphrey (Justin Long) is also a leader of sorts though his gang is more interested in bobsledding down a mountain and chasing tail. They occasionally have to intervene when alpha packs get too aggro and remind them to enjoy life and eat berries. The script, by Chris Denk and Steve Moore, is a real howler. In place of an original thought they make Humphrey head over heels in love with Kate who, despite their friendship, sees herself as about two or three leagues above him. Things get a bit more complicated when they are captured and shipped off to Idaho (land of potatoes and blue football fields and not much else) as part of a re-population program. This provides the motor upon which this clunker runs; they need to find a way back before all out war breaks out on the home front. Along the way the viewer is subjected to terrible sexual innuendo (“Was it good for you”), drug intoxication jokes, excrement drinking jokes, and a strange little subplot wherein Garth falls for Kate’s assistant. The writers try and stay current by taking aim at vegetarians but after the quips Scott Pilgrim vs. the World uncorked on the topic theirs just feel useless. There is never any drama because we can tell right from the start that there is no creativity at work here. To make matters worse the plot is convoluted and moves so fast you can’t tell what is what.
There is a bit of cutesy girl power inserted here as the female is in the traditional male role of alpha but a quick survey of American cinema would show you just how unoriginal that idea is. Here the only thing Humphrey can hope for is that he can take a career girl and convince her to let her hair down in the name of love. A noble goal and an honest portrayal of our society but it’s disheartening that mainstream movies can’t get past the idea that the only happy ending available to them is to have these two characters end up romantically entwined. That paints them into a corner and means that we’re forced to watch scenes like the one where Kate and Humphrey share a howl by the moon, a scene far more bloodless than heartfelt.
Directors: Ben Gluck and Anthony Bell Notable Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Justin Long, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover Writer(s): Chris Denk and Steve Moore