Title – Isle of Dogs (2018)
Director – Wes Anderson (Rushmore)
Cast – (Voices of) Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Koyu Rankin, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson
Plot – In a futuristic landscape, dogs from Japan are sent to a trash island to live out their lives outside of the human populace but all that is set to change after young pilot Atari (Rankin) heads to the island in search of his old dog Spots.
“Don’t ask me to fetch that stick”
Review by Eddie on 08/08/2018
By this stage in his career, 22 years on from his debut film Bottle Rocket and follow-up break out hit Rushmore in 1998, you know what’s in store when you sign up to watch a Wes Anderson film; oddball humour, arthouse tendencies and Bill Murray and for any acolytes of the esteemed indie filmmakers previous works, Isle of Dogs will be one of the years easiest to digest cinematic treats.
Showing us all he was a deft hand with animation with 2009’s memorable and very good Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson returns to stop-motion animation with his whimsical and fantastical Japanese set tale, that sees man’s best friend banished to a trash island, living a life of scraps and canine disease, whilst felines are allowed a life of luxury in the imaginary Megasaki City.
It’s a unique and colourful tale filled with eye-capturing scenery and one that fits Anderson’s sensibilities and imagination like a glove, yet while so much of Isle of Dogs is wondrous and engaging, there’s a sense that the core tale of Anderson’s fable isn’t one of the filmmaker’s finest moments, as we are thrown into a simplistic yarn about young pilot Atari trying to reunite with his old 4-legged friend Scraps after he was sent to Trash Island 6 months previously.
Joining forces with a rag-tag collection of mutts led by Bryan Cranston’s Chief and Edward Norton’s Rex, Atari’s journey starts off promisingly enough but unusually for an Anderson film, Isle of Dogs narrative begins to peter out as the runtime wears on and interest levels wane and despite the fine attempts of its voice cast and the beautifully constructed animation, Isle of Dogs is neither funny enough or thrilling enough to be considered up their Anderson’s most assured works such as Fantastic Mr. Fox or more adult oriented dramas such as The Royal Tenenbaums.
While its disappointing Isle of Dogs didn’t connect more emotionally or nail its comedic oddball tone to a higher degree, there’s no denying Anderson and his team’s commitment to their hard to master animation technique is a genuinely remarkable achievement and filled with Anderson’s creativity behind the camera, Isle of Dogs is abundant with visual wonder and acts as a colourful and memorable Japanese themed treat that is great for the eyes and senses, just not so much the heart or funnybone.
Final Say –
Some will be utterly charmed and dazzled by all elements of Anderson’s newest creative offering, while others will find this appealing work slightly disappointing on a higher level. Hard to dislike but arguably harder to love than the best of Anderson’s offerings, Isle of Dogs ends up being further proof that Anderson is a unique and unpredictable talent, to be forever copied, but hardly ever bested based purely on imaginary outputs.
3 black owls out of 5