Alpha Rift opens with an exciting, well choreographed, and well shot sword fight between two characters in ornate helmets and some seriously good sword skills. The swords clash and each fighter gains, and loses, the upper hand at various points. While they fight, men armed with guns rush toward the scene of the battle. It ends with one of the fighters impaling the other, and the man turning into a brilliant cloud of green light. It sets the table for what appears to be an exciting battle between good and evil. 

Cut to fifteen years later. We meet Nolan Parthmore (Aaron Dalla Villa), who runs a gaming shop with his two friends Gabby (Rachel Nielsen) and Lewis (Christopher Ullrich). Nolan explains to a group of kids the story of the Noblemen, knights from long ago that protect the world from the Devil’s Apostles, evil entities escaped from hell that roam the earth. It’s the central narrative to a game that Nolan is playing with the kids, and he tells the story well. 

It becomes a hero’s journey when Nolan discovers he is the latest in a long bloodline of the actual Noblemen himself. His father lost his life fighting one of the Apostles, and now Nolan is next in line to save the world from a particular nasty presence named Lord Dragsmere. Dragsmere has taken possession of a robber named Blades who had the unfortunate luck of trying to steal the wrong thing at the wrong time. Nolan is taken to a large compound, where he meets Corbin (genre veteran Lance Henriksen), a man who lays out the history and begins training him to fight Dragsmere. 

The high points of Alpha Rift are the action sequences. The opening scene sets the table for this, and the fights only get better as it goes along. There doesn’t seem to be any punches pulled and director Dan Lantz stages the fights in a clean, clear way. There aren’t any shaky handheld moments where it can get chaotic and confusing. 

The world building is strong as well. Lantz has crafted an interesting mythos behind the Noblemen and their centuries old battle against the Devil’s Apostles. It gives a richer history beyond the action we’re seeing, and ups the stakes in a meaningful way. 

Where Alpha Rift does stumble is its story. Once Nolan enters Corbin’s compound, the narrative gets repetitive. From there it’s mostly Nolan attempting to train or learning how to use a special helmet, which gives him the ability to see an action happen two seconds before it happens. It becomes a drag as Corbin’s son Vicars (Graham Wolfe) repeatedly chastises Nolan for his inadequacies as both a fighter and a person, and Nolan repeatedly questions his viability as a person who can save the world from ancient demons. Those scenes alternate until we get to the fairly anti-climactic final fight between Nolan and Dragsmere. 

While the fight sequences are clearly the best thing about Alpha Rift, some of them could have been perhaps sacrificed for more character development (especially Corbin and his son) or deepening the relationship between Nolan and his best friend Gabby. The scenes in between the action pieces seem like rushed filler until the next time two characters start sword fighting. 

Despite the good fight scenes and Lance Henriksen’s presence, Alpha Rift suffers from a repetitious narrative that can quickly become stale and boring. 

 

4 out of 10

 

Alpha Rift
RATING: PG-13
Runtime: 1 Hr. 25 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:

 

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