‘Isle of Dogs’ Review

isleofdogs-2Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animated comedy film written, produced and directed by Wes Anderson. The ensemble voice cast includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frank Wood, and Yoko Ono. The story is set in a dystopian near-future Japan and follows Atari, a young boy who goes in search of his dog, Spots after the whole species is banished to an island due to the outbreak of a canine virus known as dog flu. Wes Anderson does a great job with this film. The story is touching and the characters feel special and well-rounded. It all comes down to Atari’s love for his dog, which is shown in many key moments throughout the film. There is also a message about learning to let others get close emotionally even if you’ve had a rough life. The decision to do the film in stop-motion was a fantastic creative choice by Anderson as it allows for much more detail in the environment. Everything from the backgrounds to the technology is so intricately built. This makes the people, the city, and the dogs look real (but not realistic) and relatable. The dialogue of the film is very humorous and well written with much of Anderson’s dry wit incorporated throughout. By having the dogs speak English and most of the human characters speak Japanese the viewers are able to relate more with the dogs. Since most of what the humans say sounds like incoherent gibberish (unless you understand Japanese, of course). All of the voice talent in this film is great. There are so many A-list stars that it’s easy to pick out who’s who after a while. The back and forth between Rex, King, Duke, Boss, and Chief is priceless and provides some of the funniest scenes in the film. They are a pack of alpha dogs (hence the names) in which they are all the leader and vote over which decisions to make. The actors have great chemistry and sound as if they have been a pack for years. Rex, voiced by Edward Norton, is the most vocal dog of the pack and the most eager to help Atari. Chief, voiced by Bryan Cranston, is revealed to be the only stray in the group and is given the most character growth of the group. After he and Atari are separated from the rest of the pack, he begins to care for the boy, albeit begrudgingly. Of the human characters, aside from Atari, we spend the most time with Tracy Walker. She’s an exchange student from Ohio and speaks mostly English. Greta Gerwig seems to have fun with the role and delivers her lines with such energy and poise. There are times where the film does feel a bit slow and repetitive. In addition, the Japanese and the interpreter’s translations can become a little much. I give Isle of Dogs a Decent 8.4/10. This is a fun family film, but most of the humor may be lost on younger children.

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