'Alpha and Omega' is wholly uninspired. From the insipid animation, to dialogue that I suspect was penned in crayon, this movie is not only one of (if not the) worst children's productions I've ever endured, It's one of the worst movies I've ever seen, period.
The movie starts out with the standard Romeo and Juliet conundrum. Kate (Hayden Panettiere) is an alpha wolf and is expected to lead the pack. Humphrey (Justin Long) is a lonely omega. It's forbidden by pack custom for omegas to fraternize with, much less marry, alphas. We know this, because it's repeated at least a dozen and a half times during the movie. "Alphas and omegas, that's just not right," "Alphas and omegas, that's just not our custom," "An alpha can't love an omega!" Over and over. Yes we get it, alphas and omegas are like oil and water. They don't mix. Okay, on with the story please!
Throwing custom and tradition aside Humphrey, that fun-loving omega, decides that he does indeed love Kate, and he'll do anything to get with her. Even if that means endangering the future of the pack. See, the pack is having a bit of a disagreement with the East Side wolves. They've been at each other's throats for ages, but a compromise has been reached. Kate will marry the East Side's alpha, Garth, and unite the packs. Too bad Kate and Humphrey have been tranquilized by local game wardens and transferred to Idaho. The first nutty thing that happens in 'Alpha and Omega' is that we're supposed to believe Canadian game officials are transplanting their wolves across the border into Idaho. Huh? Not to mention that in Idaho wolves are considered pests and are shot. Why they'd want Canadian wolves transplanted there is completely baffling.
Okay, I'm getting off track. This is a kid's movie right? Bright animation, talking animals… this is one of those electronic babysitters that keep the kids quiet for an hour and a half so you can have some "me" time. Problem is I don't see this movie even entertaining the sugar-fueled kid brains that will be watching it. Its jokes are just so witless.
Wolf 1: "Why is this mountain called Rabbit Poop Mountain?"
Wolf 2: "Because, this is where rabbits like to poop."
Can't you just hear your children's brain cells popping inside their tiny noggins? Pop, pop, pop! I'm pretty sure that 'Alpha and Omega' should come complete with a Surgeon General's warning printed in big bold letters.
The rest of the film, after Humphrey and Kate are transplanted, follows the same color-by-numbers homeward bound story we've heard hundreds of times before. The two of them get into shenanigans, meet a couple other animals who have the obligatory English and Scottish accents, and finally make it back home safe and sound in order to deliver the overarching morality summary at the end.
What a waste of time!! There's nothing here that remotely resembles a fun, energetic movie. Even the late Dennis Hopper's dialogue is made to sound flat and ugly. Speaking of Dennis Hopper, I think we can all agree that the dedication to him at the end of the movie is a slap in the face of his esteemed career. He deserved better than this!
I usually don't like to poo-poo a Blu-ray presentation because of its source material, but it's hard not to when we're talk about 'Alpha and Omega.' First, just let me say this, the 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is near spotless when it comes to digital anomalies. I did notice faint bits of aliasing in long grass and a jagged bit of aliasing as the camera panned over the gas station that they stop at mid-movie. Other than that, we're looking at a clean and clear digitally animated presentation.
Having said that, it's just so hard to give 'Alpha and Omega' anything near an above average score. It's animation is disastrous. In this world where we have Pixar and even Dreamworks to some extent, pumping out richly detailed CG animation, this movie feels like it was animated 20 years ago when the medium of CG animation was starting to come out. I felt like most of the time I was watching a low budget CG Saturday morning cartoon. Fine detail isn't there, because it wasn't animated in the first place. In movies like 'Monsters Inc.' and 'Ice Age 3' we have wonderful examples of what CG fur can do. Here, it's a sticky mass that is stretched over the characters and never gets a chance to show any sort of realism. Colors also appear dim and not as bright or vibrant as I would have liked. Blacks are also pretty bland, especially during the scene where Humphrey and Kate have to hide under a truck. Their faces and bodies tend to just blend in with the blackness instead of subtle shadows creating detail.
It's not the fault of the Blu-ray transfer that 'Alpha and Omega' looks so bad that's for sure, but it's hard to give something that looks so mediocre anything other than a mediocre score.
While the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation fares much better than the video it still has some inconsistencies that need clearing up. The robust sound stage offers much in the way of surround effects as a stampede comes rumbling near or a pack of wolves clash to fight over territory. Thunder and rain provide great ambience too, as well as some much needed LFE. Speaking of LFE, it's kept pretty quiet for much of the film, and even during a more lively bass-thumping musical number it still seems underused.
Dialogue is nice and neat, provided cleanly through the center channel. A laughable aspect of the sound design is that of the wolves growls. Oh, boy. Sounds like they got an over-excited puppy in the sound recording studio and had it growl. Their growls never induce fear, only laughter. Panning effects are smooth like when a train passes from one side of the screen to the other. Musical numbers are nicely rendered, but seem localized in the front and center channels, instead of being spread throughout the sound stage.
While this audio presentation does have its hold-ups it's a much better performance than the lackluster video.
When you find your kid tugging your clothes at the store trying to get you to buy them 'Alpha and Omega' do the kind thing and get them anything else instead. In a year that saw so many decent to amazing CG animated releases, settling for 'Alpha and Omega' is unthinkable. Just don't do it. You'll be happier that you didn't waste your money and that you didn't put your children's brain cells at risk.