“Isle of Dogs” stars Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Koyu Rankin, and F. Murray Abraham. Released on March 23, 2018, the film is about a group of local dogs who assists a young boy in searching for his lost dog.
The film is directed by Wes Anderson, who also directed films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. There are many talented people that crafted stop-motion animation as an art form, with Anderson being one of them. Not only was Anderson praised for his unique visual narrative, but also for his superb use of stop-motion in several of his live-action films. This is his second attempt at making a full-length stop-motion animated feature, after his film adaptation of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” back in 2009, and let me tell you, this is something that you might want to think about before taking your kids. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time, mostly because of its concept and Wes Anderson’s filmmaking style. Now that it’s got a wide release this weekend, let’s see if his latest work is considered an animated gem.
The film is set in dystopian Japan, where the residents are facing a dangerous flu virus that is spreading across the canine population. In order to fix this problem, the mayor of Megasaki City (voiced by Kunichi Nomura) banish every single dog on the planet to a huge island filled with trash, including the one owned by his ward, Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin). Atari’s journey to search for his dog lead him to five alpha dogs who decide to assist him on his quest. “Isle of Dogs” has the same unique style that Anderson is known for in his other films, from the panning shots to the color palettes of certain sequences, and it’s the type of style that still showcases a different way of watching a film, especially an animated one. Another thing you should know about this film is that just because it’s an animated film about talking dogs doesn’t mean that it’s for kids. There were plenty of sequences that may come off as disturbing for younger viewers, and the pacing can bore those who have short attention spans. Aside from that, this is another well-crafted piece of animation cinema that’s not from Disney or Pixar. The film features a voice cast that consists of well-known American celebrities like Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton and Japanese celebrities. Not only was this cast acceptable in terms of its setting and characters, but they delivered some of the best voice work in animation history, most notably Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum as the alpha dogs. The animation and its visual narrative are the main reasons why this film is a must-watch for every fan of stop-motion animation. The character and set designs were extremely detailed and the film’s style perfectly matches the art of Japanese storytelling. Just goes to show that Anderson is no stranger in using stop-motion to create this type of world. The story can get a bit predictable during a couple of scenes, but Anderson’s sense of direction helped kept it going for me. From what I can get out of this film, it’s a much different perspective of the importance of the relationship between a dog and its owner. Wes Anderson’s screenplay, along with the film’s use of deadpan humor, was able to explore this type of theme without dumbing things down for its intended audience. The musical score by Alexandre Desplat was also quite impressive in enhancing the film’s tone and providing some really catchy tunes.
Overall, Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” is another animated gem that’s creative, original, and distinctive. With its well-crafted story, fantastic animation, visual style, and a flawless score by Alexandre Desplat, this is a simple, yet highly fascinating, adventure that only the art of stop-motion can construct. This is by far the best animated film about talking dogs ever as well as one of the most beautifully well-made stop-motion features that I ever experienced. Fans of Wes Anderson’s works and stop-motion animation would want to check this one out if it’s playing at a theater near them.