#MovieReviewMondays: "Isle of Dogs"
“Isle of Dogs” was directed and co-written by Wes Anderson. The film takes place in a futuristic Japan, in which all dogs have been banished to “Trash Island” to contain the spread of the feared “dog flu.” Atari (Koyu Rankin), a young boy, searches the island alongside a small pack of former house pets to find his lost dog Spots (Liev Schreiber).
Being Wes Anderson’s second film using stop-motion animation, “Isle of Dogs” stands proud among its contemporaries in scale and wonder. All of Wes Anderson’s classic trademarks are for us to enjoy to the fullest extent.
The film is supported by an all-star ensemble cast, including the likes of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson and Courtney B. Vance among many, many more, with everyone giving it their all in their respective vocal performances. Not a single actor sounds dull or uncaring. Even background characters produce passionately performed lines.
In terms of look, you won’t find any lags here. The scenery and production of the various settings are stunningly gorgeous, designed to the most minute detail. The film is as colorful as you can expect from a Wes Anderson movie, and is an absolute joy to watch.
The cinematography is static and symmetrical, but this doesn’t take away any elements of the film’s atmosphere and story; a rarity for contemporaries who attempt to execute the same feat. And the music… goodness is the Alexandre Desplat score a gift to the ears. With influence not only from old samurai films, but also westerns and adventure movies, the score is wonderful entertainment all on its own, let alone alongside the film.
In terms of animation quality, this is the best you can get in the stop-motion category. The motion is at times rapid, sometimes slow, but always smooth. The level of detail on the characters is unbelievable, from the ruffled fur to the watery eyes.
However, don’t let the marketing campaign fool you. This is not a straight-up comedy like Anderson’s last animated effort, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. Although Anderson’s classic quirky humor is most certainly present, the story focuses on drama and character development, which is admirable in the animation industry. But the story is where my one criticism enters the scene. There are occasional tonal shifts that seem off-putting and random, in turn messing up the quality of a scene or two. The dramatic, sudden shifts should’ve been saved for a future project, as a couple scenes didn’t really seem to finish right.
“Isle of Dogs” is the stop-motion film that everyone deserves. With a story brimming with fun, originality, and exciting, dynamic characters, the film is a strong entry into Wes Anderson’s filmography that will surely be enjoyed by everyone.