One of the most anticipated films of the year has lived up to its expectations, as Wes Anderson delights in another wonderfully detailed and artistically driven masterpiece that is Isle of Dogs.
My first foray in to the weird world of Wes Anderson's films was The Grand Budapest Hotel. I was amazed by the cinematography and the design of each shot, as if each individual frame was a painting; Isle of Dogs is no different, as scene by scene the director and his team of artists paint a wonderful picture driven by its aesthetics. It is a stop-motion film set in a dystopian near-future Japan where a dog flu affects the entire canine population, so are banished to Trash Island by Mayor Kobayashi, but when his ward goes to find his old dog Spots, a journey unfolds between the human world and the canine world. The plot holds firm for most of the film, giving the beauty of it all a purpose with two connecting storylines between humans and the dogs.
The voice cast is also incredibly strong. In a blink and you’ll miss it opening credit roll, this film has a long list of high-quality actors lending their voice to either dog or man. Bryan Cranston - who plays Chief - was my favourite edition from the cast, as the different tones in his unique voice helps develop the character as the film progresses. Bill Murray also lends his voice in what is his and Wes Anderson's eight project together, as well as bringing back recurring collaborators such as Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Keitel.
The animation style would be a put off for some people. The characters can look disturbing at times, but if you have ever seen Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox then this film carries on with the unique stop-motion that blends delightfully with the light-hearted nature of the film. There is no doubt that Isle of Dogs is very beautiful; easy on the eye, the cinematography is masterful, and each puppet was hand crafted by the animators to give individuality to the characters. When watching you get a sense that an enormous amount of detail and effort has been made to make the film as pleasing as possible, with the colour palette being very specific and holds constant throughout the film.
As beautiful as a film can look, it still needs to have an interesting story to be worthwhile, and that’s what this film delivers for the most part. The pack of dogs who go searching for a young boy’s lost pet during a political scandal of a mayor who seemingly prefers cats is an intriguing and engrossing story, packed full of surprises. The ending is underwhelming, but it’s easily forgivable.
Sit back and just enjoy the beautiful, artistic fantasy world created by Wes Anderson.