Review of 'Isle of Dogs'

isle_of_dogs.jpg Yeah, this is something else. In a word: Quirky. In several more words: Odd and fun.

Set in the near future the city of Megasaki in Japan has suffered an outbreak of “dog flu” so Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) exiles all dogs to Trash Island. There the dogs learn to adapt without their owners and establish a society. The mayor's son Atari (Koyu Rankin) escapes from his father to search for his dog Spots crashing on the island. Despite not being able to verbally communicate with the young boy a group of dogs offer to help find Spots lead by the charismatic Rex (Edward Norton). The group includes the dogs King (Bob Balaban), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), Boss (Bill Murray) as well as the reluctant and cynical Chief (Bryan Cranston). They set off to find the smartest dogs on the island, Jupiter (F. Murray Abraham) and Oracle (Tilda Swinton), who they hope will point them in the right direction but little do they know the Mayor has dark plans for the island…

I am trying to think where to start. The visual style is unique and captivating - Rich with detail and utterly amazing. From the opening sequence of on-screen Japanese character exposition (with matching English) with it's ironic and “mater of fact” style quickly flashing on the screen we are drawn immediately into the story if only out of interest as to what is going to happen next or to simply see more. Using stop motion animation techniques in both highly realistic but also highly stylised ways it is obvious this is a masterful example of the art - It revels in the nature of the medium being unafraid to be slightly stilted and awkward which simply adds to the whole experience. The filmmakers are not afraid of subtitles for many of the characters Japanese which gives the overall feeling of an Asian film.

Formal and slow paced often we see characters posing (perfectly) facing us out of the screen. The dialogue matches in its style with the whole thing treated extremely seriously despite some pretty bizarre (and often funny) situations. There is plenty here to keep observant viewers amused for example the pet dogs for every member of the city council when dogs are around and pet cats when they are not. It is an obvious quest story but there are enough twists and turns to keep viewers interested throughout. I can say it is never quite apparent as to what will happen next which really drew me into the film.

Unique and, yes, quirky. I have to think that this film would appeal to viewers of all ages though there is the occasional scene of violence. It is the older audience I fell though that will be in awe of what Anderson has accomplished here. Tremendous fun and well worth watching.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2018-06-07

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Studio: American Empirical Pictures

Year: 2018

Length: 101 minutes

Genre: Animation

Other reviewed films by Wes Anderson: