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The Independent Critic

Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, Christine Lakin
Anthony Bell & Ben Gluck
Chris Denk, Steve Moore
Rated PG
88 Mins.


 "Alpha & Omega" Review 
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“Alpha and Omega” is a fun filled animated comedy adventure focusing on the lives on two rival wolf packs struggling to survive in Jasper National Park (Canada). The story specifically focuses on Kate and Humphrey, the Alpha and Omega of their wolf pack family. Each wolf pack has a social hierarchy: the Alpha, which represents the leader or first in charge, and Omega, the wolf whom occupies the lowest position.

Kate, played effectively by Hayden Panettiere, has just finished training as the Alpha Female of her pack and is expected to lead it to a united harmony with the rival pack. She does not wish to disappoint her commanding father, Winston, who expects Kate to bring peace to their current conflict by marrying the rival pack’s Alpha Male, Garth. The marriage will bring both packs together and resolve the ongoing dispute over territory. Reluctantly, Kate bravely accepts her role, however she fails to notice that Humphrey (Justin Long), is madly in love with her.

Kate and Humphrey are suddenly captured by researches and relocated to a Sawtooth wilderness area in Idaho. Together, they must find their way home before the rival packs fight for dominance over the disputed territory. After befriending Marcel the Goose and Paddy the Duck to help them, Kate and Humphrey face some difficult challenges, including angry bears and steep cliffs. Will they make it home before the next full moon to prevent more conflict with the rival pack? Will Kate and Humphrey defy pack rules and marry each other?

While the film does a wonderful job of simplifying the story for children, the actual complexities of the wolf personality is severely inaccurate. It allows for a number of imprecise “Pack Laws” such as alphas and omegas not being allowed to mate together; pack territories being set boundaries that cannot be crossed; and, while alphas and omegas are allowed to eat together, they are not allowed to howl together. Another inaccuracy is that howling happens at the moon and operates as a part of mating rituals when in fact the howling actually occurs as a complex form of communication.

The film identifies each wolf as either an Alpha or an Omega, however it fails to mention the “Beta” member of the pack, second in command and typically the fastest runner. Another point is that Alphas typically do not lead the hunt. The wolf pack hunts as a cooperative unit and the film did a fantastic job depicting how dangerous and difficult it is for wolves to hunt for food.

This film is rated PG for some rude humor, mild action, scary images, and hunting violence. More animated films should be created for kids to depict a real life version of wolves, as they have historically gained an atrocious reputation. While the film is made for children and depicts the wolf in a very favorable light, viewers should not be led to believe that these animals are domestic or tame. Viewers are also cautioned not to believe the films definitions of “Pack Laws.”

It was touching to see the film’s dedication to the late Dennis Hopper, who voiced the rival pack leader, Tony.

Michael J. Heath
Guest Critic, The Independent Critic