By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –
Another stop-motion animation film from the mind of Wes Anderson, Isle of Dogs tells the story of Atari, a 12-year-old boy who is searching for his dog Spots. Japan has had a break out of dog flu causing Mayor Kobayashi to banish all dogs to Trash Island. It is here we meet a pack of dogs including Rex (Ed Norton), King (Bob Blalaban), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), and led by Chief (Bryan Cranston). When Atari goes to the island in search of his lost dog Spots, this pack of alpha dogs decide to make it their mission to get Atari to his dog.
This is another homerun for Wes Anderson. All of his trademarks are present; whimsical story and setting, symmetrical framing, brilliant colors, and a heartfelt story everyone can relate to. The only thing missing is deep tracks from indie and classic rock bands. This works in the film’s favor, because Wes has really actualized a world in the fictitious city of Megasaki City, Japan. Without the usual indie songs, you’re able to be transported to Japan and feel like you’re watching news reports rather than just watching a story. Anderson’s decision to not use subtitles throughout the film is also a great idea. Again, it helps place the audience within the story instead of feeling like you’re merely watching a story unfold. The audience gets to experience the story unfold.
All of the actors are brilliant in their roles, especially the dog pack, which is a gang of usual suspects for Wes Anderson except for new comer Bryan Cranston, who is great. Cranston is such a versatile actor, being able to going from bumbling dad to meth kingpin to a gruff stray dog. The entire film is perfectly cast, and you’re going to recognize nearly every voice within the film. The cast brings their characters alive, making the entire film and world a believable one where the audience can escape inside to enjoy the wild ride of Megasaki City and Trash Island.
Lastly, I just want to give credit to the entire team behind the scenes. This film feels like it’s on a big scale; there are several scenes with a lot of people in them. When the Mayor is giving his speeches, there look to be hundreds of people in the auditorium. The large shots of the city are reminiscent of Metropolis. Making stop-motion films is very difficult and takes long hours of work. This film really shows off all of the hard work this cast and crew put into this film. There were several scenes that could’ve been half-assed, but they went full out and it only makes the universe feel that much more real. Maybe Wes Anderson will finally get that long-deserved Oscar with a win for Best Animated film.
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan like myself you’re going to love this film. It may not be his best, but it’s certainly on par with all of his other great work. If you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson or don’t know who he is, you should still watch this film because maybe you’ll discover a new director you like, or you’ll fall in love with the dogs. Me personally, I wanted to take Oracle the Pug.
Isle of Dogs (2018) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: for every moment not subtitled or interpreted.
Do a Shot: for every time the drums come in.
Take a Drink: every time Chief resists following Atari.
Take a Drink: for every flashback.
Chug a Beer: because Dogs are better than Cats. (Ed. note- I’ll let this slide… this once.)