A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom is another of the popular animated wolf cub tales released directly to DVD that are merchandised along with toys, games, and related products. Directed at elementary schoolers, the franchise aims for stories about funny, distinctive, human-like animals, their relationships, and their environments in the wild. Mild scares and action are hallmarks of the brand, making this suitable only for kids who clearly understand real versus imaginary violence. This movie is far more suspenseful than earlier ones, with chases and battles taking precedence over the usual domestic conflicts (moving to a new neighborhood, family vacations) and scares that are mostly tangential. Packs of rogue wolves and two treacherous bears threaten the entire forest in multiple sequences, which include scary falls, hand-to-hand (or paw-to-paw) conflict, and even some fatalities. Still, devoted parent-child and brother-sister wolf relationships, as well as the cooperative interaction among many species in the forest, send positive messages. Not appropriate for those too young or too sensitive to deal with heroes menaced and under siege.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Trouble awaits favorite wolf cubs Runt (voiced by Kate Higgins), Stinky (Hunter Swan), and Claudette (Lindsay Torrance) when they venture without their parents' permission to the Eastern front of the forest in ALPHA AND OMEGA: JOURNEY TO BEAR KINGDOM. At first, things are wonderful. They're in the right place at the right time for a visit from the reigning Queen Bear and Princess Canue, rulers of the forest's animal kingdom. The queen and princess have left their doting king behind in their home as they pay a visit to their beloved followers. All the forest critters join them for the royal welcome. The celebration is short-lived, however, when the royal family's two bear scouts are revealed to be traitors and have put them all in harm's way -- the entire contingent is attacked by their arch enemies, the rogue wolves. The wolves, hoping to capture the bears, control the water, thus taking over the kingdom as fierce fighters, but their initial efforts fail. Princess Canue is rescued by the cubs and their buddies and taken to safety. Events escalate as the queen is captured, the king is warned, and all the animals of the forest, including the cubs' parents, Kate and Humphrey, and grandparents, lead the frightened but brave creatures in a bold counterattack.
Is it any good?
The usual formula of funny critters with distinctive personalities and relationships, solid voice performances, and some peril gives way to a reliance on suspense, scares, and violence in this tale. Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom finds the rogue wolves attacking innocents with ferocious consistency. The animation has never been hip or original, but the jokes often are. An ongoing feud between a British duck and a French goose is always a playful treat. And kids relate to the sibling shenanigans and the overprotective parenting of Kate (Higgins again) and Humphrey (Ben Diskin). Those elements are still included but with less prominence. Instead, this movie is clearly more of an adventure, with fearsome wolves on the move with teeth bared, important heroic characters appearing to plummet to their deaths, and bad guys paying for their treachery. It's OK for most Alpha and Omega fans but not for the little ones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom. What should determine whether a child is ready for the kind of action shown in this story? List some of the possible consequences of too much violence for someone too young (nightmares, overstimulation).
What is meant by the story's declaration, "Whoever controls the water, controls the valley"? Why is this true? How does the availability of water affect all living things? Think about all the different habitats on our planet.
What lesson did Runt, Stinky, and Claudette learn in this movie? Do you think their parents' rule about not going to the Eastern front of the forest is an important one? Why?
How does this movie compare with other Alpha and Omega tales?
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