Isle of Dogs is Pawsome

Isle of Dogs is Pawsome

I have been aware of Wes Anderson’s prominent status as a quirky filmmaker for quite some time, however, I never got around to watching many of his films. I saw his first stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox when I was eight. I didn’t like it at the time because I didn’t appreciate the animation or understand the message and themes. It was when I saw the trailer for Isle of Dogs, that I decided to set out on a quest to watch all of Wes Anderson’s movies. Unfortunately, I only watched three. Junior year is stressful. Of the three I did watch (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox)  I loved all of them and Isle of Dogs is no exception.

Isle of Dogs looks at the dystopian version of the Japanese Archipelago. The antagonist, the cat-loving Mayor Kobayashi sends all dogs in Japan to trash island after an outbreak of canine flu. The film follows a ragtag group of dogs on the island who help a young boy, Atari, find his dog Spots.

The heart of the story is the relationship between a boy and a dog. Watching Atari go great distances to find Spots is both relatable and enjoyable. On his journey, Atari forms a relationship with the cold-hearted Chief, the leader of the ragtag group. Watching them form a relationship, and watching Atari turn Chief into a dog with a heart of gold is so wonderful. The story sometimes meanders and feels like it is going nowhere, but the characters keep me invested even when the story slows down.

The group of dogs are by far the best characters in the movie. They are all uniquely different in characterization and appearance. Many alumni of Anderson’s older films appear as voice actors, including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum. Each actor delivers Anderson’s quirky humor perfectly. However, the standout voice talent is Bryan Cranston as Chief. His voice carries so much force and authority that his character is almost intimidating, and rightly so. He also brings a lot of emotion to his voice during the more serious elements as well.

This story is told using beautiful stop-motion animation, marking the second time Anderson has used this form of animation, with the first being Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson and his animators improve their craft even more here. Each puppet is masterfully handcrafted, from the dogs to the human characters, the amount of detail in each frame is astounding. The film’s Japanese aesthetic works perfectly with the beautiful stop-motion animation and Anderson’s signature rich colors and perfectly symmetrical shots.

Isle of Dogs is pawsome. The animation, voice talent, and script come together to create a beautifully unique movie that fits flawlessly into Anderson’s already diverse filmography.