Saturday, June 23, 2018

'Isle of Dogs' Is a Delightful Wes Anderson Masterpiece

Wes Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers working today.  The unique style of his movies’ narrative, tone, and visuals makes them immediately endearing.  One of my most favorite films of his, if not my most favorite, is Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I loved how his trademark filmmaking approach works impeccably through the stop-motion animated medium.  Then, it was his only animated work, and I really wished he would do more.

When the trailer for Isle of Dogs dropped, it was the first time I was made aware that Wes Anderson has a new stop-motion animated movie.  Since then, I was eagerly anticipating of finally watching it – which I’ve just done recently.  And, as expected, I adored it.
Isle of Dogs is set in near-future Japan, in which the authoritarian mayor of Megasaki City (Kunichi Nomura), as response to an outbreak of canine flu, decrees that all dogs are to be exiled to the same island where the city’s trash is dumped.  The plot centers on 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), the mayor’s nephew, who – in his desire to reunite with Spots (Live Schreiber), his beloved bodyguard dog – steals a mini-plane and crashes into the island.  Coming into his aid is a pack of canine misfits – Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaband), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldblum).  Meanwhile, their quest inspires a group of young pro-dog activists, spearheaded by American exchange student Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird), to expose an anti-dog conspiracy.
The eccentric yet heartwarming story is mightily appealing and thematically multi-layered.  It’s something that dog lovers will especially love, but even those who aren’t will still be pleased about.  Furthermore, the deadpan humor is beyond excellent.

On the other hand, the superior quality of the animation should go without saying (but I’m saying it anway. lol).  It almost always comes with the territory when it’s stop-motion.

Another thing worth of note is the terrific voice acting.  The ensemble cast really delivered performances that give justice to their all-star power.  Aside from those already mentioned in the synopsis above, other big names in the cast are Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Ken Watanabe.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Isle of Dogs – maybe even more than I enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox (Maybe I’m just a prisoner of the moment.   Need to rewatch both to be sure).  My only issue with it – but just a very slight one – is that I felt the ending was a bit weak.  Other than that, I believe this movie is a delightful masterpiece.

No comments: