First Hit: The premise was good but sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting for the film to move along almost made me leave early.
It is known that wolves are the ancestors of our modern-day dog, man’s best friend. Having a dog, albeit a small one, has shown me how wonderful dogs are as companions and especially how loyal they are.
The problem with this film is that it was unrealistic in too many ways to make me believe this version of the story about how wolves and man created a synergy that would last thousands and thousands of years.
What wasn’t believable? That the village of people lived so very far away from the once a year food they’d collect. When they went hunting for buffalo they men traveled for months. We didn’t see much about how they survived, ate and drank water, through these harsh geographic elements. Their teeth were perfect, meaning the make-up didn’t even try to hide this fact. That they killed the buffalo by herding them off a cliff, just didn’t seem realistic. But most of the fantasy was Keda’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journey back to his village after his father Tau (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) and his team of hunters, left Keda to die on the edge of a cliff. Not only did I find it hard to believe he survived the fall, I also didn’t believe he could have survived the months long trek back to his village by following tattoos on his arm supposedly mapping stars in the sky. They didn’t provide much guidance and because of the long travel time, those stars would have shifted in the night sky.
Keda was identified by his mother Rho (Natassia Malthe) and possibly the Shaman (Leonor Varela) to be more big hearted and less ruthless than the others in the tribe. Although Keda adequately created a flint spear head, which gave him the honor of joining the hunting expedition, he wasn’t seen as having the killer instinct. This proves out during the trek to the buffalo hunting site as he refuses to kill a boar for food.
First you have to buy that he's big hearted (the most believable aspect of the film), then you must believe he survived the fall off a tremendous cliff with only a hurt ankle. The crown was that the story wants you to believe that he made the journey back to his village looking at the tattoo on his hand every 5 days or so. Just not likely.
However, believing this was the set up was to give credence to his first injuring the wolf, the alpha of the pack, then, because of his kind heart, nurses the wolf back to health. The wolf in-turn helps him hunt and kill food and keeps him warm at night.
At one point the wolf leaves Keda because Alpha's old pack coax the wolf back. But then there is a scene where Keda meets up with the wolf pack and the wolf chooses to save Keda against the elements.
The whole trek back to Keda’s village could have been cut by 50% to help the film. It just didn’t need all the snow driven angst. However, the ending shows how man and wolf/dogs became companions in a larger sense which was nice.
Smit-McPhee was adequate as Keda. His looks and actions, though, didn’t seem like they were correct to reflect being 20,000 years in the past. Johannesson was OK as the tribe leader, but he didn’t look like he came from 20,000 years ago. Malthe was OK as Keda’s mother. Whatever animal played Alpha was wonderful. Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt wrote an OK screenplay (dialog wise). Although I don’t think language had developed that well 20,000 years ago. However, I could be wrong. Albert Hughes had a wonderful vision about how wolves became the forefathers of our modern dog, but this wasn’t borne out in the final product. The best part of the film were some of the geographic shots of the land.
Overall: There were multiple times I wanted to get up and leave because of boredom.