Isle of Dogs: Film Review

If you have always been a fan of writer-director Wes Anderson your entire life, the chances that his latest stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs. This isn’t the first time he stepped out of his live-action confront zone since he was reasonable for 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I should see at this point, and if you can probably tell that this isn’t gonna be a typical dog movie that the kids are gonna be checking out once they’re older.

What’s the Story?: 20 years into the future in a Japanese city, the mayor of Megasaki City have order the banishment of dogs after an outbreak of canine flu had spread into the city. The solution for this situation is to have all dogs be on an island of trash. But after 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) crashes on the island in his prop plane in search of his missing dog Spots (Liev Schreiber), a pack of dogs join him on the adventure.

Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, and Koyu Rankin in Isle of Dogs (2018)

After the lackluster year for animation of last year, Isle of Dogs really turned out to be a solid animated movie that’s clearly made for the fans out there. Written by Anderson and a story from Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Kunichi Nomura, at first, it may sound like a crazy to kind this would probably happen in the near future anywhere, but it was able to be unique and fast-paced plot for a boy searching for his lost dog in the Japanese culture. It’s also kind of hard to really compare Isle of Dogs to other movies.

I’m always amazed at how stop-motion, and with Isle of Dogs, every shot is visually stunning with incredible animation. The fact isn’t surprising since every Anderson is bright, colorful, and all around gorgeous. Must’ve taken a lot of time for each shot to be perfect to get it right. The score by Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat, fresh off his win for scoring The Shape of Water, was excellent and stuck with me as one of the best scores of the year so far with music that fits well in all the scenes music is needed influencing by other Japanese music.

If you’re gonna have yourself a film by Anderson, you know it’s gonna provide a variety of voice performances that you’ll recognize quick such as Chief (Bryan Cranston), the stray dog who is also the alpha dog of the group; Rex (Edward Norton), probably the most relabel dog of the group; Boss (Bill Murray), a former mascot for a baseball team; King (Bob Balaban), a former celebrity dog who used to be in commercials; and Duke (Jeff Goldblum), a dog who hears rumors that’s been spreading around the island. There’s also Greta Gerwig as American foreign exchange student Tracy, who’s investigating the cover-up against Mayor Kobayashi, Scarlett Johansson as former show dog Nutmeg, Tilda Swinton as Oracle, the dog who could see into the future, etc.

Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Edward Norton, and Bryan Cranston in Isle of Dogs (2018)

The deadpan humor is to be expected for Anderson, and I was surprised by how funny it was. From what Anderson was casting, the comedic timing is well-utilized providing that wit he’s been known for. One of the scenes that I was surprised by was the dogs are going through some trash compactor and they served for what could’ve been like an entire day.

While Isle of Dogs has a lot of positives things say, there were some problems that the film has. The decision not to have Japanese subtitles, especially for Atari, was a bad idea since there was no way of feeling a connection with the Japanese. On occasion, a translator (Frances McDormand) comes in and translate what’s being said. A few moments were a bit slow and while the story itself sounds fascinating, it could’ve been a lot better.

Not one of the best film’s Anderson has made, but Isle of Dogs is still a worthy watch. This is ultimately made for adult and/or young adults with a mature audience. Made for dog lovers alike even if it tends to have its dark moments between the relationship between man and dog. I still haven’t watched all of Anderson’s filmography, but I’m still alive to check out the ones I haven’t watched it (best movie from his is probably Rushmore).

Engaged by its visually stunning animation and amazing voice cast despite an alright story, Isle of Dogs is another achievement from Wes Anderson.

Grade: B

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