Review: Isle of Dogs

20 April 2018

Wes Andersons’s latest feature, Isle of Dogs, is everything you hope it will be and more. As his second stop-motion animation, the ingenious director has mastered the medium completely, allowing it to fulfil essential elements of his filmmaking aesthetic.  

Set in a dystopian Japan, Isle of Dogs follows the story of young Atari (Koyu Rankin) as he travels to Trash Island to rescue his banished dog and best friend, Spots, after a dog flu virus has spread throughout the canine population, enabling the new major of Megasaki City and Atari’s uncle, Kobayashi, to authorise a decree exiling all pooches. After crash-landing, Atari is rescued by five dogs named Rex, King, Duke, Boss, and Chief who agree to help him find Spots. Back in Megasaki, Foreign exchange student, Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) suspects a conspiracy and begins to investigate.

With a fictional world utterly at his disposal, which he can control to a larger extent than any of his previous work, including Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), Anderson has indulged fully in his fondness for characters who are quirky yet enchanting. Each frame is overflowing with careful detail so that it almost demands a repeat viewing, if you hadn’t already wanted to do so immediately. The many reoccurring themes present throughout Anderson’s filmography emerge yet again, exhibiting it as so distinctively his. Quirky motifs such as its narrow colour palate of red and grungy browns allow it to appear as a little world inside a world, and the classic deadpan humour makes each joke so ridiculous and wonderful to experience. Anderson’s trademark technique of using one point perspective and self-aware camera work creates perfect frame symmetry, captivating audiences with every movement.

Despite faces remaining unseen, Anderson has again drawn upon a familiar pool of performers including, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormund to bring his stoic characters to life. New voices to the famous group include Academy Award Nominee, Greta Gerwig, whose performance of Tracy is of particular greatness, giving the strong, moral driven young character a sense of eccentricity and energy that Gerwig exudes herself.

Isle of Dogs, like so many of Anderson’s work, leaves you feeling as though you ought to go spend the rest of your day in a bookstore listening to classical music followed by a nice cup of tea. Well at least that’s what I did. I had to keep the perfect illusion alive.


Isle of Dogs is in cinemas now.

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