I usually hate dog movies. Nearly all of them are crass, annoying and downright awful, with the only good ones tending to be fully animated, but even those are few and far between.
Well…I think I’ve finally found the dog movie that completely works for me.
Conjured from the weird and wondrous mind of Wes Anderson, ‘Isle of Dogs’ marks his second time delving into the world of stop-motion animation, where with his creative ambition he has made a stunning film that is an absolute joy to watch.
The film is set in a fictional future Japan, where the mayor of Megasaki city has banished all dogs to Trash Island due to an outbreak of Dog Flu and Snout fever. We follow the Mayor’s young nephew Atari, who travels to the island in search of his dog joined by a pack of 5 canines who help him on his quest.
It is a simple story with an interesting and unique premise that is effectively told, ripe with deadpan humour, charm and Anderson’s signature oddball quirkiness that can be seen throughout his filmography.
Whilst the dogs do all speak English, all the native Japanese characters actually speak Japanese which is translated primarily using characters who act as translators within the film, rather than just being done with subtitles. I thought this was a nice little touch that is different from the norm and added a little bit more authenticity to the film.
Atari is voiced by Koyu Rankin an unknown actor who is new to the scene, whilst the rest of cast is made up of more familiar faces such as Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig and Wes Anderson regular Bill Murray. I wouldn’t say anyone stands out, but they all perform on a consistently solid level and do a good job at expressing their characters’ unique little traits.
The main highlight though is the animation which is incredible. I’ve always had a deep appreciation and love for stop motion and here it is masterfully executed. Anderson has stated that the film is heavily influenced by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and that can be clearly seen in its visuals with some of the framing and shots mimicking that of Kurosawa’s work. This combined with some charming scenery and well crafted models makes for a very visually interesting and appealing film that stands out among other stop motion works.
Now there may not be much depth bubbling under the film’s furry surface, but even just serving as a love letter to Dogs, It is easy to see and appreciate the passion and hard work that has gone into this film, making it undeniably enjoyable from start to finish.
Amongst a sea of dog turds, ‘Isle of Dogs’ pops out as a yummy dog treat to be joyously consumed by all.
OVERALL: 8.1/10 – GREAT
Review Written by Eric Hart (Blazinhart).