Film Review – Isle of Dogs

The Most Wierd and Wonderful Film I Have Ever Seen

isle of dogs

Wes Anderson’s second stop motion film “Isle of Dogs” is about the city “Megasaki” and its discrimination of dogs due the the outbreaks of Snout Flu and Dog Fever; although with the promise of a cure by the opposition to the current leadership, the Science Party, the corrupt ruling party and dog haters – Kobayashi.

After the dogs are banished to Trash Island, the protagonists Rex (Edward Norton), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and their pack leader Chief (Bryan Cranston) are fighting for food when they stumble across the Mayor’s Ward, Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) who came to the island looking for his dog, Spots. The five dogs and young boy go looking for Spots while the politics rumble on in the city as the Kobayashi party fight for the demise of the already banished and doomed dogs.

The film is fantastically brilliant. What makes the film so amazing? For starters, the artists on this film are talented beyond belief, so much detail and work has gone into the design of this film. The film had over 130,000 still framed photographs in it; the character of Tracy (voiced by Greta Gerwig) has three hundred and twenty one individual freckles and considering there are multiple faces to do, that is extremely impressive. You can tell that even with seemingly small scenes that only appear for a short few seconds have a lot of work put into them. Anderson likes to show things happening, this isn’t a bad thing, the scene with the science machine must have taken ages, as well as the sushi making scene, these incredible scenes add an element of quality and brilliance to the film. The science scene depicts the leader of the science party testing the cure for the illnesses the dogs have, the scene is brilliant and moderately comical with the overdone and absurd machines the scientists use. The scene works with one camera moving from one side of the room to the other, this is a clever way to show the montage and has a nice and natural feel while still showing the hard work and care the scientist have, the scene is finished off by the scientists celebrating by making cocktails out of lab chemicals. The fantastical elements Anderson deploys makes the wacky weird comedy come to life.

When watching, this shot caught my eye, This is when Atari Kobayashi has just woken up from being unconscious and met the dogs who will help him on his adventure as shown below.

isle if dogs.jpeg

I find this part very clever; throughout the film Atari is alined with dogs and here the dogs are very close and personal, they’re part of who he is, they’re well lit and clear to the Atari, clear as to what they are. The dogs are at his hight however, “Trash island” is alien and barren, the floor is covered with paper and looks almost like the surface of the moon so it strange and intriguing. He has only just began his journey. The whole scene shows the bigger meaning of what Atari represents, being associated with a dog. I also realised throughout the film the dogs sneeze as a reminder of the illnesses they have and what is truly at stake in the grander picture; this ill reminder brings a harrowing element to the moment. These sneezes interject in the middle of comedy and dialogue to keep the serious and depressing reality to an otherwise quirky and funny film.

One thing to point out is that the voice actors may have come of a little flat sometimes, and the lines they were given quite often come across as just them saying something with no emotion. I get the sense this might be a style choice from Wes Anderson and people may like it but id rather a bit more life was put into the characters. Anderson is known for his stilted text with short sentences, Although being a style choice i thought he went too far in this movie.

SPOILERS

In the ending moments of the film, when everyone is together and the antagonist mayor Kenji Kobayashi (Kunichi Normura) has been reelected for mayor, stopped Tracy and about to kill all the dogs on Trash island. Atari has returned with the dogs he has met and is confronting his uncle (Kenji). I found this scene was ultimately underwhelming and I didn’t feel the tension it should of had. It was fun but not as strong as it could of been. The music could have been better (the music in the film is fantastic, especially like “i wont hurt you” by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band) aside from just the drums we had heard before and the whole thing moved a bit too fast.

Anderson has fun with the way character’s language is translated. All the dogs speak English, and all the other humans speak mainly Japanese – there is normally a TV translator or somebody muttering notes so one can understand the Japanese; one would expect this to be distracting however it’s very effective and enjoyable to watch without being annoyed by this or the voice over getting in the way. Atari on Trash Island was funny and brilliant, to me at least – he is alone on trash island and would speak Japanese with the dogs looking confused at the language they don’t understand; this was funny and was part of the comedy, however it bought the emotional scenes to life by Atari who may as well have been silent. Anderson has created brilliant scenes with this. In the movie there was a emotional scene on a boat where the, now rescued dog spots (Leiv Schriber) is letting his brother, chief, replace him as guard dog to Atari due to is new job as a father. Without subtle symbolism, Anderson sets it up like a wedding – the scene takes place at night mirroring the end of an partnership and the birth of a new one. The scene is emotional, Chief and Atari makes some vows – although not understanding what Atari said, the overall effect was superb and the event was a nice way to end the arc of Chief with him accepting responsibility of Atari.

END OF SPOILERS

In conclusion isle of Dogs is a fantastic film, its not without flaws but none the less a fantastic film. The film is beautiful and how Anderson is able to show events without having anything said but just creates this magnificent film which takes pride in its beauty and sights. I haven’t mentioned it but the film is weird and if you have seen Wes Anderson films thats why, if you don’t like his work maybe don’t watch it. This isn’t a kids film,  it’s very niche but very good. i rate it…

78/100

thanks for reading, it means a lot. If you see any spelling, grammar or literary mistakes, please tell me. i’m dyslexic and would appreciate this so i may improve.

by Frederic Hall

Facts taken from dazed digital and imdb

One thought on “Film Review – Isle of Dogs

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