By Gabriella Gerace
You do not need to be a dog person to enjoy Wes Anderson’s newest feature. If you happen to be, this makes an already thrilling experience all the more special. Released on March 23, “Isle of Dogs” is director Wes Anderson’s second stop motion film, his first being the 2009 Academy Award nominated movie, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
With stunning visuals and precisely coordinated details, watching “Isle of Dogs” will make viewers forget that they are watching a film comprised of everyday objects.
Set in a dystopian Japan, “Isle of Dogs” follows the story of a pack of exiled dogs living in a junkyard the size of an island — blatantly titled “Trash Island.” Atari, the nephew of the cruel mayor who originally exiled the dogs, arrives on Trash Island and forms an alliance with the dogs, which leads them to revolt against the anti-dog forces on the mainland.
Chapter One of the four-chapter story begins with an emotional narrator asking, “What happened to man’s best friend?”
Oddly enough, her address does not come off cliché at all — it was a tearjerker that foreshadows the absorbing journey to unfold.
The dogs, in all their rugged and scrappy glory, are voiced by an ensemble cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. By choosing such an eclectic mix of actors to personify the dogs, Anderson gives each dog a personality and manner of speaking that distinguishes them from the pack.
The punny dialogue between the dogs, albeit sometimes cheesy, still feels like conversation amongst old college friends with an undeniably heartwarming undertone.
With each scene, “Isle of Dogs” serves dazzling arrays of colors and textures despite the time-demanding difficulty of stop motion animated film. The film does not forget the Japanese culture infused in the characters, details and dialogue.
One of the most notable aspects of “Isle of Dogs” is Anderson's ability to balance comedic, sometimes childish interactions within a serious, socially aware plot.
As Atari and the dogs continue to fend for themselves on the island, it quickly becomes apparent that “Isle of Dogs” is not an animated film intended only for young audiences. At times violent and a bit dark, the plot makes for an extremely engaging and unexpectedly tense story.
“Isle of Dogs” is a fun experience for diverse audiences, regardless of whether the viewer is a dedicated Wes Anderson fan or simply a dog lover. With an original story complimented by the stop motion animation style, the film is fresh from start to finish and is great for viewers looking for something different.