Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When it was announced that Wes Anderson’s new film was a stop-motion animated film about dogs in a dystopian version of Japan, it was pretty easy to imagine what the final finished product would look like. And with Isle of Dogs that’s pretty much what we get; a beautifully crafted, humorous, sweet, and quirky film about man’s best friend with all the motifs and thematic material we’ve come to expect from a Wes Anderson production.
The story takes place in a dystopian future version of Japan; dogs have been declared a public safety hazard due to “Canine flu” and have been sent to a trash island off the coast. A young boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) crash lands a plane on the island and with the help of a pack of dogs goes searching for his lost dog Spots (Liev Schreiber). The cast is enormous featuring the likes of Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Courtney B. Vance as the narrator, and for some reason Yoko Ono playing herself as an assistant scientist.
If you wanted something new from Wes Anderson then you will be disappointed, hell, if you just hate Wes Anderson for some reason then this film will make you hate him even more. If you thought The Grand Budapest Hotel was peak Anderson, then prepare to think again. Mr. Anderson has crafted a world that is so imaginative, colorful, and bursting with so much detail and precision that it’s hard not to sit in wonder of the immense sight of it.
Case in point there’s a one minute scene of a chef preparing sushi that’s so detail-specific that it borders on self-indulgence. All the Japanese characters speak in Japanese without any subtitles, while all the dogs speak in typical Wes Anderson dialogue while Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score plays in the background.
The film, like the rest of Anderson’s filmography, deals with family issues, unlikely friendships, and the young generation vs. the old, but also deals with some timely issues like immigration, government censorship, corruption, and xenophobia. Its message is obvious but nonetheless crucial in this age of uncertainty and fear. Anderson would not have known about our current climate as production started three years ago but it speaks to the timeless nature of these themes that this film could be interpreted as political. But, at its core, the film is about a dog’s relationship with its master or owners. It goes without saying if you happen to be a dog owner, this film will be extremely touching on a lot of levels.
Wes Anderson films are practically their own genre at this point; his style is so specific that it’s impossible to see him switching things up. He is the quintessential hipster filmmaker and Isle of Dogs is yet another notch in his already impressive belt. It sucks you in from the opening scene up until the credits roll. It’s hard not to have a ball watching all the craziness unfold on screen even if you’ve seen this exact same formula before – it’s hard to be mad at a film this creative and fun.
Overall Grade: B+
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