Thursday, April 12, 2018

[Review] Isle of Dogs

In the similar spirit of Fantastic Mr. Fox, quirkmaster Wes Anderson returns to the animated world with Isle of Dogs (say that out loud three times), and it's a wonderfully shaggy tale that certainly delivers on the promise of its precious title.

Amidst a bustling Japanese city called Megasaki, a sickness called the Dog Flu has run rampant among the local canines. So the evil Mayor Kobayashi (voiced by Kunichi Nomura) has decided to banish all the pups to a place called Trash Island (which is exactly what it is). From there, we follow a core group of mutts as their fate drastically changes when a young pilot named Atari (Koyu Rankin) crash lands on the island -- in search of his long lost dog, Spots.

Isle of Dogs is unmistakably Wes Anderson all the way, and the writer-director's meticulously unique brand of eccentric whimsy is injected in high doses. Every frame is remarkably striking and artfully rendered -- from the immaculately detailed stop-motion animation, to the textured and idiosyncratic production design, to the nifty flaunts of aesthetically-pleasing symmetry. In fact, the visuals are so marvelous that they have us as an audience darting our heads around the screen, as if we were dogs with toys and treats being dangled in front of our faces. As for the narrative, it's a fun and odd adventure that's full of spunky obstacles, wild conspiracies, and clever twists.

This film is funny, too. It's littered with plenty of chuckle-worthy moments, consistently fetching a wry and deliciously deadpan sense of humor along the way. The unbelievably stacked cast of canine voices help matters too, including the likes of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, and Liev Schreiber. Even Ken Watanabe and Yoko Ono check in as surgeons and scientists.

In the grand scheme of things, Isle of Dogs is a slyly affecting and genuinely sweet story of dogs finding homes -- and humans finding friends.

* 9/10 *

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