REVIEW: Isle of Dogs takes over

Photo courtesy of Fandango | The newest Wes Anderson stop-motion film features the star-studded cast as animated dogs. The plot takes place in a dystopian future Japan.

With gorgeous stop-motion animation, a canine-studded cast, and quirky storytelling, Wes Anderson’s second animated film Isle of Dogs and first film after his four-year have hiatus was anything but ruff.

The dystopian story takes place in the fictional Japanese city Megasaki after the mayor outlaws dogs, deports and quarantines them to a trash-filled island after an outbreak of canine flu. We meet the cast of dogs voiced by celebrities from Brian Cranston to Bill Murray, and are then introduced to the film’s protagonist. The “little pilot,” 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi, flies to the island in an attempt to find his dog Spots, who was one of the many dogs taken away during the mass deportation.

Anderson has once again proven that his whimsical vision translates most beautifully through animation. The visual of the film is meticulous and outstanding, something that can be appreciated by even the most casual movie-goer. The PG-13 flick is clever and political, with edgy humor and direct jabs at America’s current political climate. The usage of crude language is pointedly ironic, and, as always, Anderson has a carefully tuned ear for music, and Isle of Dogs is no exception to his perfect choice of tunes.

I would think that by 2018 Wes Anderson could stand to make a coming of age film that isn’t centered on another boy with a surrounding male cast. Many of his films explore a father-son dynamic, but the saturation of stories of young boys and men finding themselves is a tired trope that someone as dynamic as Anderson could easily overcome. The romantic storylines in Isle of Dogs are pathetic at best and only serve the purpose of sprinkling some much-needed estrogen in the film. The spunky and determined character of Tracy Walker–who is a student writer with a hunger for investigative journalism–could easily have been the star of the film, but was instead sidelined as a romantic interest despite her major role in propelling the film forward.

While Anderson films tend to leave me disappointed with interesting but shallow characters who are so bored with life that they can’t be bothered to have a character arc, Isle of Dogs is refreshing. The dogs in this film are easily the stars with fuller personalities than most of Anderson’s quirky-for-the-sake-of-quirky human characters. The film executes the classic hero’s journey under unique circumstances with relevant social and political themes.

Anderson has truly found his place in animation with Isle of Dogs. This edgy comedy is just the right combination of irony and sentiment to leave the audience barking for more of Anderson’s animated sweet treats.

By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Campus News Editor~