Alpha and Omega [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (9th April 2011).
The Film

I remember seeing the trailer for “Alpha and Omega” (2010) in front of “Toy Story 3” (2010). Aside from the fact that it looked truly horrendous, all I can remember is the constant reminder that you could experience the film in “EYE-POPPING 3D!”. It told me this, over and over and over until I wondered if they were putting more stock into reaping the (assumed) benefits of charging more for a 3D picture than in actually crafting a worthwhile story. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m convinced it’s the latter. What happened to kids movies? When I was growing up, it seems like we had all the coolest live-action films and cartoons that people still heap tons of praise upon today, even without the added benefit of viewing them through rose-tinted glasses. The majority of kids’ films today feel devoid of emotion, produced only to cash in on the undisputable fact that parents will likely be dragged to anything that’s animated and/or features some cuddly, fluffy CGI creations. Whatever happened to giving kids a truly fantastic ride when they go to the movies? Seems these days, those behind the movies know kids are usually easy to please, so they aim for the lowest common denominator. Luckily, there’s a bit of a backlash being felt via parents’ pocketbooks, and a lot of these unworthy films (this one included) aren’t performing as well as distributors are undoubtedly hoping for. Maybe they’ll start to get the message that just because a film is animated and presented in 3D, that doesn’t preclude it from sucking a big one.

According to the film, there are two distinct classes of wolves: Alpha and Omega. Humphrey (Justin Long) is an Omega wolf who’s in love with an Alpha wolf, Kate (Hayden Panettiere). The problem is that Kate is set to marry Garth (Chris Carmack), a wolf who’s part of the enemy Eastern pack. Just before they’re set to mate, however, Kate runs off, runs into Humphrey and the both of them are shot with tranquilizers and shipped off to Idaho, where researchers are attempting to rebuild the wolf population there. Miles from home, and with no assistance in sight, the two wolves set out to get back home, falling in love in the process… yadda, yadda, yadda. Honestly, anyone with kids who watches this (because I can’t imagine anyone other than parents or reviewers would voluntarily sit through this) will be able to telegraph the plot and character moves well in advance. I suppose I could let it slide a little more if I look at this as a film for toddlers and young children who need to learn the basics of life, but on the same note I don’t think I’d want my children to have fond memories of watching something so patently terrible that it killed Dennis Hopper.

Ok, ok… maybe (and I stress that word) this film didn’t kill one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, but it stings like a shot to the gut that this was the last film he left us. At least it was only his voice doing the work, so he doesn’t have to be facially shamed in this final outing. I wish I could say his pipes lent some gravitas to this underwhelming production, but even the great Hopper couldn’t do anything to salvage this wreck. I’d say I’m amazed at the voice cast a production like this was able to secure – Danny Glover, Christina Ricci, Justin Long - but I don’t think it’s such a hidden fact that actors love doing this kind of work. They usually get a big pay day, and they don’t spend more than a week or two shuffling around a soundbooth in their jammies. There isn’t much to it. I’m in the camp that still has a minor problem with big, recognizable celebrities lending their talents to animated movies. It tends to take me out of the film in the sense that, when I hear Danny Glover’s wolf speak, all I can picture is Danny Glover sitting in an ADR booth somewhere. Unless you’re someone like Christopher Lee, who has one of the best voices in cinema, then I think many of these productions would be better off using no-name actors who have great character voices. They’re out there – lots of ‘em – and these are the people who should be bringing these characters to life. Not a tired, old Danny Glover who sounds like he really is – to quote his most famous character - “too old for this shit”.

Video

The 1.78:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image looks about as remarkable as I’ve come to expect from an animated film these days. That’s not to say it’s eye-poppingly fantastic or anything; just that it’s technically proficient and free from deficiencies. I’m not a fan of the animation style – at all. I think it looks clunky, poorly rendered, archaic and blocky, like some ancient cut screen from a Playstation video game. The original Playstation. I can’t complain about the sharply defined animation lines or the color scheme, both of which are exemplary. How could they not be? A computer handled all the work, so I’d figure on both looking as sound as possible.But the animation looks so unrefined, like everything is painted in broad strokes. I can’t complain about the lack of fine detail because there really isn’t any. There’s nothing subtle or nuanced about this presentation.

Audio

Of course, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mixed at 48kHz/24-bit fares much better. The soundtrack is perfectly balanced in regard to dialogue and sound effects. There’s a scene early on where a group of wolves is near a waterfall, and the crushing fury of the water pounding onto the rocks below had my subwoofer drowning in bass. The surround speakers are given more to do than in most children’s films, filling out the track with many of the typical sounds you’d expect to hear in a forest environment. I’d hesitate in saying that the track possesses incredible dynamics or impressive soundscapes, but it’s certainly much more robust and engaging than I would have expected.
Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound tracks are also included. Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

There’s not a whole lot worth getting excited over here. We get some featurettes, a deleted scene, a couple of interactive games for the kiddos and way, way, way too many bonus trailers. There’s also a second disc containing a DVD copy of the feature film sans any bonus features.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

“The Making of Alpha & Omega” (1080p) contains some behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making-of the film. They can be watched together using the “play all” feature or they can be watched individually:

- “The Alpha of Animation” runs for 7 minutes and 23 seconds.
- “Voicing the Wolves” runs for 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
- “From Alpha to Omega” runs for 6 minutes and 26 seconds.

“Wolves in the Wild” (1080p) featurette runs for 13 minutes and 10 seconds. Not wanting to skimp of authenticity, the filmmakers immersed themselves in all things wolf – watching wolves, filming wolves, studying wolves, eating wolves. Ok, maybe not the last one so much but you get the point.

A single deleted scene (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds. The movie was already terrible and ran under 80 minutes. Did this really need to even come out?

“Animal Fun Facts” is an interactive feature that plays during the film, popping up with little factoids about various woodland creatures. The education this provides easily outweighs the entertainment of the film.

“Log Sliding Game” interactive active is something for kids. Everyone over the age of 3 will find it as terrible as I did.

“Are You an Alpha or Omega?” interactive active is a personality test to determine which class of wolf you belong to. I’m in the class that thought this was too boring even for kids.

Bonus trailers (1080p… some for films that look so offensively bad I actually got angry) are included for the following:

- “Thor: Tales of Asgard” runs for 1 minute and 43 seconds.
- “Timmy Time” runs for 1 minute and 38 seconds.
- “Fred: The Movie” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue” runs for 1 minute and 7 seconds.
- “Leap Frog: The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park” runs for 58 seconds.
- “Wolverine & the X-Men” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.
- “The Spy Next Door” runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds.
- “Battle For Terra” runs for 1 minute and 11 seconds.
- “Love the Dance” runs for 1 minute and 31 seconds.
- “Bratz: Pampered Pets” runs for 57 seconds.
- “Leap Frog: Numbers Ahoy” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.
- “Shaun the Sheep: Off the Baa!” runs for 1 minute and 20 seconds.

The disc is also equipped with Lionsgate’s bookmarks feature.

DISC TWO: DVD

This is a DVD copy of the feature film. There are no bonus features, but the disc does have all of the godawful bonus trailers found on the Blu-ray.

The film’s digital copy can be redeemed be going to a website listed on the insert inside the case. It is only compatible with iTunes.

Packaging

The 2-disc set comes in a standard amaray keepcase with matching, embossed cover art.

Overall

Unless you feel like torturing your child, or giving him fond memories of a movie that should be forgettable, don’t bother. There are far more intelligent and interesting animated films to watch than this one.

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The Film: D- Video: B Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: C-

 


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