Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games

Welcome to the first ever post for "I Got Here Late," the blog where I review sequels to movies I haven't seen.  For my debut, I watched...

What Did I Know Going In

  • Alpha and Omega was a bomb, right?  I coulda sworn this was one of those "It's the worst movie of the year" movies.
  • I know it's about animated wolves.  I'm guessing they talk.

Initial Impressions

  • They made three of these?
  • At 45 minutes, I'm not sure if this can really count as a movie.  But you know what, I'm a busy guy, so 45 minutes is fine by me.
  • This seems to be one of those bargain bin movies they put up near the cash registers when you're checking out and they hope your kid picks it up and says, "Mom!  It's all new!  We have to get it!"  But since it's streaming on Netflix, it looks like I'm only half as much a sucker as the parents who had to buy it.

The Plot, As Far As I Can Tell

This is, as the title suggests, a movie about The Great Wolf Games, an important competition between various wolf packs.  I'm not clear if it's an annual event or if it's more like the Olympics and happens on some other cycle, but let's just say it happens once a year.

By total chance one day, Claudette, a talented young wolf from The West, accidentally runs into a talented young wolf named Fleet from The North.  Fleet tells her that he's practicing for the Games.  Claudette has never heard of the Games before, but she immediately decides it's what she wants to do with her life.  Also, she has a bit of a crush on Fleet.

Claudette can't enter directly, however, because she doesn't have a team.  So she assembles one hastily out of her two brothers, Stinky and Runt, a bear who's afraid of birds named Brent, and Brent's overbearing friend / boss / manager(?) named Agnes.  Brent and Agnes have a few moments where you think they might be important, but pretty much everybody that isn't Claudette serves as comic relief in the background.

The Western Team has a hard time figuring out how to train, so Claudette asks her dad, Humphrey, to be their coach.  He puts them through an intense training regiment that mainly just consists of running.  While coaching, he meets Fleet's dad, Nars, who is the antagonist of the film.  Nars is overbearing and competitive in contrast to Humphrey's lackadaisical, carefree whimsy.  But more importantly, Nars has a psychotic break and cries while thinking about his own overbearing and competitive father.

Eventually The Games start.  The Western Team wins the first game, then the North wins the second, and then they tie in the third.  Everybody wins and they all learn a valuable lesson about sportsmanship.

The Things I Liked

All things considered, the voice acting was decent.

Also, it was short.

The Things I Didn't Like

Oh, boy.  What a confusing movie.

I'm not even talking about stuff that must have happened in the prequels.  I'm sure the Alpha and Omega franchise is not so storied that it would explain this.  I'm talking about basic rules.

For example: where are all the other teams?  The Great Wolf Games are supposed to be this big deal, right?  So why is it just the North and the West the whole time?  For that matter... who was the North going to compete with?  The whole point of the first ten minutes is that the West doesn't have a team, so what exactly were the Games going to look like if Claudette didn't get her friends together at the last minute?  Were they just going to go to an empty field and run around in circles, then call themselves the winners?

Actually, that would seem to be in line with Nars's personality.  He and the Northern Team are introduced as if they'll be a bunch of snobby, arrogant jerks who rub their talent in everyone's faces.  But it turns out that none of them are particularly good at what they do and they have to cheat in order to win Round 2.  So, the Western Team isn't actually a ragtag group of underdogs, after all.  They are literally just a bunch of average nobodies who showed up and happened to put up a challenge to another bunch of average nobodies.

What exactly is the common perception of The Games?  Do all the wolves dream to compete?  Claudette's mom won the Games at one point in her youth, but she obviously doesn't talk about it since Claudette has never heard about them until Fleet explains the concept.  So... does that mean the wolves don't really give a shit?  Are they more like The Okay Wolf Games, and the only people who follow them are the wolf equivalent of balding 40-somethings who keep thinking about "the big game" from their junior year in high school?

I guess what I'm saying is, Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games failed to give me a sense of tension.

Here Are Some of My Notes While Watching

  • Dad Wolf is bitching about his wife to his best friend.
  • Brent the bear called the birds "peckers!"  What the fuck!
  • I'm not really sure what the plot is yet.
  • When Agnes runs fast, she literally flies.
  • It's 12 minutes in and I want to give up.
  • I did not expect to be this confused already.
  • "You're middle-aged now.  You're much heavier."
  • Seems like an unhappy wolf marriage.
  • Oh, holy crap!  They actually are playing the games now!  Didn't realize.
  • One of the games seems to be a rock-hopping thing?
  • Was waiting for the foul / fowl joke from the bird umpires
  • "You have to hate your opponent to win."  Funny.
  • Fleet says he's going to be the new coach of the Northern team.  How does that happen?  You can't just say you're the coach, can you?
  • I don't understand the geography anymore.

Would I Recommend It?

Probably not.  I guess it would do the job if you just need your kids to be quiet for 45 minutes, but then they might want to watch it again.

What Do I Think the Prequels Were About

Based on the events of Alpha and Omega 3, I have to assume Alpha and Omega 1 was about Humphrey and Kate meeting and falling in love, and then Alpha and Omega 2 was about them having kids.  I'll further take a guess that Part 1 involved Humphrey somehow getting Kate lost in the woods and separated from their pack - like maybe he thought he smelled cheese or something and ran off to get it, and Kate told him not to and chased after him in a vain effort to stop him, but then they tripped and fell into a river or something, and the rest of the movie is about them trying to get back home.

Which leads me to believe Part 2 was basically the exact same plot, but with their kids getting lost instead.  I bet Stinky fucked it up that time.  He seems like a trouble-maker.

Now, on a more serious note.  The title and thematic undercurrents of Part 3 imply that there is an ongoing struggle toward a more egalitarian viewpoint of the world, as their society consists of alphas and omegas and Parts 1 and 2 likely involved the gradual partnership of both to produce something better.  I would hope this means that everybody learned a lesson.

But since Part 3 begins with their caste system intact, I assume that means Humphrey and Kate's adventures were an abject failure.  I'm going to guess the North is where all the wolves actually live, and the West is where they exile those who go against the system.  This would explain why Humphrey and Kate's family are the only wolves we actually see.  Except for Humphrey's fat friend, Mooch.

Oh, yeah.  Mooch.  I hope he was skinny in the prequels.  Like in Part 1, he was really tiny, and then it ended with him finding a picnic basket or something and he was like, "Cupcakes?  Yes, please!"  And then in Part 2 he's a little bit fatter and he keeps eating cupcakes.  And now we get to Part 3, and it turns out his character exists in the trilogy purely for the purpose of revealing him as a big fat guy in one scene and laughing at him.  In his only scene in Part 3, Humphrey literally pushes him aside and says, "You're fat now!" and that's the last we see of him.

Poor Mooch.

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