Humphrey is an Omega, a low socially ranked wolf who likes to play games with his friends and is skilled at breaking up fights and working with other members of his pack. He has a crush on an Alpha wolf named Kate, who, like her parents, takes her duty and responsibility as a high ranked pack member seriously. The problem is that he cannot be with her because of his rank and vice-versa. Because of a dispute problem with an opposing pack fighting over food and territory, leaders of both packs Winston and Tony agree to unite the packs under the marriage of Kate, Winston’s daughter, and Tony’s son, Garth. Although she understands the reasons and wants the best for the pack, she finds that Garth isn’t the wolf that feels right for her. Suddenly a pair of rangers shoot tranquiliser darts at both Kate and Humphrey and taken them from Jasper National Park in Canada to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho. Because she doesn’t want a large fight over territories, Kate wants to head back to Canada, so with the help of Humphrey and two birds Marcel and Paddy, they all go on a journey back to Jasper, where they will face many obstacles and test both of their relationships along the way.
As far as I know at the moment, there isn’t much information about the development of the film. After a shaky history of animated features, Crest Animation Productions (formally known as RichCrest) made a deal with Lions Gate to make three animated feature films that would be shown in 3D, Alpha and Omega is the first film. Animation was done at the India based animation studio, with pre-production, post-production and voice work done in America on a $20 million budget, and was able to break profit which now results in a second film for the company in the works. The other notable fact about this film is that it features the last official role of long time actor and director Dennis Hopper, which the film has a dedication too.
The animation is alright, not really special but on a CGI standard it does a good job. The lip syncing is almost perfect and character movements are smooth and detailed and some of the action scenes are well presented but there are occasional minor flaws that are noticeable and some of it feels wasted from some of the scenes that are pointless, so at least I credit them for showing effort in there. Other than that the visuals aren’t impressive or interesting to watch, there aren’t really any memorable scenes, with the exception of the few good jokes but the film is quite dull overall.
Also, the 3D effects are almost none existent and this film is an example of what is stupid about using 3D, if you advertise it as having 3D, then where is it? It’s not a good sign when the only good 3D effects are from the film’s credits.
The character designs and artwork aren’t that bad, but is also dull overall. Most of the textures are blurry and the backgrounds feel plain. The design of the characters all go into the field “Looks like what they are meant to be but…”. All the animals look like real animals but my only nit-pick is the designs of the female wolves, because they have hair, and it’s weird. I know that it’s a way to try and distinguish males and females but it isn’t subtle and I don’t see how necessary that was on a design aspect.
The music is professional in quality and style but bland and forgetful. They set the scenes and are edited very well, and I did like how the score is a nice blend of acoustics and orchestra but chances are you won’t remember the scores at all.
Then there are the vocal scores…oh god the vocal scores. To be honest there are only three, and only one sounds good with the rest being listenable at the very least. One thing that is actually unique for these kinds of films and actually works in this one is that none of the vocal scores have any lyrics. Since this is a film about wolves and they refer them as howls then it’s pretty obvious why they work well. The first one is the worst one mainly for how awkward it enters into the vocals and sounds through the duration, the second one is the good one however mainly because the vocals are actually good and it focuses on the main protagonists.
The voice acting is actually surprisingly good; each role is done really well and fits each character. Justin Long goes slightly over the top and clumsy as Humphrey, Christina Ricci has a soft shy voice for Lilly, Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover both do great jobs as the Alpha-Males Tony and Winston, both giving a mature and vicious voices, Larry Miller and Eric Price are both hilarious as the French-Canadian Goose and British Duck Paddy, make them the best comic relief of the films despite being underplayed and Vicki Lewis as Kate and Lilly’s mother Eve, who sounds sweet and charming, which makes her violent and gruesome lines a lot more scarier, which in turn makes her one of the funniest characters in the film. I did have a problem with Hayden Panettiere’s voice as Kate which sounded like a stereotypical blond despite being a smart alpha with a strong understanding of her position, but she did improve as the film went forward.
On the positive side for the story is that for a romantic comedy, I was surprised that it didn’t just pull off one good relationship, but two. Humphrey and Kate’s relationship does progress really well and it bothers me to spoil it, but Garth and Lilly also have a good relationship and both are very believable and touching. Some of the jokes and gags in the film are well timed and are pretty funny, and a few did make me laugh. The film is thankfully more innocent than other CG animated films, since I dislike it when these films try to add mature jokes so the adults in the film would pay attention.
On the other hand, the storyline is really predictable and clichéd, and even when watching the trailer you can have a good idea to how the story will play out and the actual film will be almost similar. Most of the gags are also predictable and aren’t really as funny, and some of the gags are just pointless and either have nothing to do with the story, or are never explained again.
Overall, Alpha and Omega isn’t a bad film, but isn’t really a great film either. I think kids would like this film for the characters and the jokes but for more mature viewers, it’s a predictable and dull experience that does have a good jokes and characters, but doesn’t really go as far as it should visually.
Alpha and Omega is available from Lions Gate, as of posting this review it is still viewing in cinemas in the UK, and will eventually be released on DVD in December.