He did it again folks. Wes Anderson has made another near perfect movie.
From the director of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” comes a new heartwarming movie that oozes Anderson’s signature style. “Isle of Dogs” was released on April 13, 2018, to glowing reviews, a score of 82 on Metacritic, an average rating of 8.0 on IMDb and box office receipts of $5,475,139 during its opening weekend.
Set in the fictional city of Megasaki, Japan, a form of “dog flu” sweeps the city, prompting Mayor Kobayashi to force all dogs in the region to be sent to Trash Island while they find a cure. In the aftermath, the mayor’s nephew, Atari, goes on a solo mission to find his companion Spots. After crash landing on the Isle of Dogs, Atari meets a group of dogs played by a star-studded cast including Bob Balaban (King), Bill Murray (Boss), Jeff Goldblum (Duke) and Bryan Cranston (Chief). This ragtag team of dogs works together to help Atari find Spots. This leads to a trek through the once-inhabited Trash Island. They go through trial after trial to find Spots, which leads to a heartwarming conclusion with just the right amount of tension and a funny cats-versus-dogs conspiracy. The movie also stars Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow in “The Avengers”), and Yoko Ono (John Lennon’s wife). Johansson stars as Nutmeg, and Ono plays herself as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono.
The film is set in Japan, so don’t expect the entire movie to be in English. I’d say it’s 40% Japanese, 60% English mix, with the Japanese dialogue including subtitles, clever uses of English translators, and characters reading out loud. When it comes to the subtitles, they are easy to read and not hard to miss. There’s just the right amount of time for you to register what’s being said before the next person starts talking. Especially with the addition of narration and aforementioned reading, most people won’t have trouble understanding the dialogue.
The art style is stop-motion animation, similar, if not identical to, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Its strong use of color and light highlights just how much time is put into getting each scene just right. With Anderson at the helm, the straight-on solid shots and poignant angles tell stories with minimal dialogue. In many scenes, the surroundings and actions of others speak louder than words. The art style and direction is top-notch, with fantastic acting and a great story. Unfortunately, the pacing of this 101-minute odyssey has large ups and downs that may temporarily make the movie feel awkward — however, the plot collates well once the movie is finished.
As of August 10th, “Isle of Dogs” is no longer in theaters, and has yet to come to Netflix, but if you’re willing to wait, I highly recommend this movie, especially if you love stop motion or Wes Anderson. Until then, “Moonrise Kingdom” remains available to stream on Netflix.
Overall, I give “Isle of Dogs” a 4.5 out of 5.