Cert: PG Runtime: 101 mins Director: Wes Anderson Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Ken Wantanabe and Tilda Swinton
To the North; a long rickety causeway over a noxious sludge marsh, leading to a radioactive landfill polluted by toxic chemical garbage. That’s our destination.
Wes Anderson has returned to the glorious world of stop motion animation. The wide angle lens, pastille coloured, centred and French new wave genius returns with Isle of Dogs. After the commercial, critical and award success of Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson returns with a stop motion film paying homage to Japanese culture and a stellar cast to boot. So what is Isle of Dogs about you ask? When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
While Isle of Dogs isn’t Wes Anderson’s finest (still 1000% better than most movies), it feels like an Anderson movie. The use of colours and symmetry are still plainly obvious, the colour and design of things very consistent giving a believable world for the film to be set in. Each one of the characters was deeply developed and fascinating while also working off many of the other characters. This is another politically strong message from Anderson in regards to the marginalisation of minorities, and how propaganda can influence the masses to turn on minorities. He keeps his unique style and it works very well with the futuristic, but still traditional Japanese art. It also incorporates some cartooning along with interesting ideas. Anderson manages to merge his style with the Japanese and it works seamlessly. The animation style is purely rugged and different from any other animation I have seen, the fact Anderson changes around stop motion, drawn animation and still images was genius. It really does enhance the gravitas and uniqueness of Anderson’s creation.
Voiced by a truly astonishing cast of actors and actresses from Bryan Cranston to Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono to Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig to Harvey Keitel and of course Bill Murray, Isle of Dogs perhaps possesses one of the greatest casts assembled. Unfortunately though, Anderson struggles to deal with such a rich and varied cast. Although the main characters of Chief played by Bryan Cranston are dealt with well, none of the characters possess the charm of previous Wes Anderson creations such as Monsieur Gustave, Max Fischer or Steve Zissou. It’s a very quirky film with an all too relatable story. I enjoyed the visuals more than the plot, I’ll admit, but it was still a good movie, with the usual quick dialogues, jokes, strange characters – Tilda Swinton being the weirdest, no surprise there – and altogether it’s a great experience. Behind the stunning visuals, is a story full of heart, a story about a dog, man’s best friend, and his master. It’s a movie that I think adults will take more in then kids because of the heavy subject matter and dark themes.