I may be in my late 20s, but I’m still a sucker for a good animated feature. Growing up, I was raised around cats but I’m friendly to both cats and dogs, as long as they are friendly to me in return. Anyway, it’s been nine years since the visionary storyteller Wes Anderson has made an animated feature, so when Isle of Dogs caught my attention, I had to travel a great distance to see it. It was worth it!
Isle of Dogs is essentially about a boy and his dog. What makes it different? This story takes place in Megasaki City, Japan two decades into the future, where canines are besieged by illnesses and afflictions that are threatening to cross over into the human population. Mayor Kobayashi, has decreed that all dogs, both stray and domesticated, are to be exiled onto Trash Island for the good of the human population but the mayor’s young ward, Atari, commandeers a plane to travel to the island and bring home his canine bodyguard Spots.
Atari crash lands on the island and is aided by a pack of “alpha dogs” who assist in his search. Rex, King, Boss, Duke and their pack-leader Chief accompany Atari across the island to find Spots and get them back to Megasaki City before the Mayor progresses with his anti-canine agenda.
Image by Fox Searchlight
Isle of Dogs barks, bites, is well-trained, does tricks, howls, rolls over, let’s you scratch its belly, is well-groomed, wags its tail; this movie features the hallmarks of why mankind is so fond of dogs and one can tell that Wes Anderson, being the amazing storyteller that he is, has crafted and shaped this delightful stop-motion animated achievement with love, amazing attention to detail and imaginative wit from start to finish.
I had high hopes for this film and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Kunichi Nomura put their heads together and turned in an idea that was creative, socially relevant to today, engaging, thought-provoking but a little wacky but beautiful as well.
From start to finish, I was mesmerized by the stop-motion animation and Anderson’s storytelling style complimented the animation style perfectly. From prologue to the final credits, this was a playful experience to witness.
The vocal talents were as diverse as they were superb. Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Kara Hayward, Liev Schrieber, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens and Mari Natsuki, all did fine work giving personality to their characters.
Alexandre Desplat’s music is as terrific as always, Tristan Oliver’s cinematography was superb, Edward Bursch, Ralph Foster and Andrew Weisblum’s editing moved seamlessly between the subplots, Paul Herrod and Adam Stockhausen’s production design was pristine and Curt Enderle’s art direction was fantastic. The entire crew of this film put in so much work and dedication to really elevate the appeal of Isle of Dogs and they should be commended.
2018 will see many animated features come through theaters but Isle of Dogs raised the bar very high for the animated features to come. In my opinion, this movie is probably as good as Zootopia; I was very impressed.