Isle Of Dogs

When an outbreak of “dog-flu” and other dog diseases ravish Japan. Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura voice) signs an order to banish all dogs to Trash Island, aka the Isle of Dogs. The island is now home to thousands of dogs who are all scavenging for food. Groups of dogs’ band together to fight for scraps of trash and survive. Then all one day a plane crashes on the island. A boy, Atari (Koyu Rankin voice), has come to the island to find his dog best friend Spots (Liev Schreiber voice). Five dogs find Atari injured buy the crash. The lone stray in the group, Chief (Bryan Cranston voice), has no use for masters and wants to leave the boy. But the rest of the group, Rex (Edward Norton voice), King (Bob Balaban voice), Duke (Jeff Goldblum voice) and Boss (Bill Murray voice) all want help the boy find his best friend. Out voted by the domesticated dogs in the group Chief agrees and they set out on a journey to find Atari’s lost dog on an island full of dogs.

This stop-motion animated film is the latest written and directed film by Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Royal Tenenbaums). Anderson’s unique film style and dialog are very present in this Japanese based tale. The stop motion animation is very well done and highlighted throughout the film. From the dogs’ hair moving with the animals to flower petals floating through the air the small details are not missed and expertly done. The dialog was also very much staying with Andersons unique style. It is fast paced and full of subtle comedy. The story is original and fun but also full of meaning and heart. The star studded cast does well in providing their voices to the animated film. The sound track really fits the film well.

The film was not without its struggles. At the beginning of the film it was pointed out that the humans would speak their native language, in most cases Japanese, and the dogs barks had been translated to English. This provides some fun moments throughout the film as there are translators to press conferences and the dog interpreting what the humans say to other dogs. But at times it seemed to me that the humans could understand what the dogs were saying, barking. So it was a little inconsistent. Also one character put into the movie presumably to aid in translation in the film as an American exchange student, Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig voice). Other than translating parts of the film I don’t know why this character had to be American and could not have been Japanese. It definitely helped the overall theme of the movie to have her there to describe what was happening, given the fact there were no subtitles, but did seem a little forced.

I am definitely a fan of Wes Anderson’s film making and one of a kind style. That comes with certain expectations, which in this case were met. But I also understand that as someone reviewing the film it may make me a little bias. As noted above there a few minor issues I had with the film in general but overall I enjoyed the film and thing fans of Anderson will not be disappointed and neither will those who are just looking for a fun movie. I think overall this is a beautifully made and fun film.


4.5 out of 5