From the moment the film began, we’re met by Wes Andersons’ familiar visuals in this stunning stop motion picture about a boy trying to find his lost dog after an executive order banishing all dogs due to an outbreak of canine flu. The adventure you embark on (pun intended) in this movie feels real. It’s brought to the table by an incredible voice cast with the likes of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Scarlett Johansson. Obviously these voices were distinguishable, but their voices truly did belong to each character, unlike films like Hop or Peter Rabbit where the voice is just a big name to help the movie, but doesn’t truly match the character. The all star cast helped the film gain attention but in no way consumed the movie or took anything away from Andersons creative art piece.
Prior to watching this film, we made ourselves familiar with Wes Anderson’s Aueter (a director who influences their films so much that they’re identified as their author), this is something I recommend doing to truly understand and appreciate the quirky nature of this film. Having already seen his other stop motion film Fantastic Mr Fox, we had expectations of symmetrical framing, snappy dialogue and stylistic shots. And what made this film is that this was exactly what we’re given and much more.
For those that have seen Fantastic Mr Fox, you’ll know the colour palette in the film was limited, using mostly neutral autumnal colours. The trailer for Isle Of Dogs made us believe this once again would be the case, especially on the so called ‘Trash Island’. However, Anderson managed to create a visual feast with perfected colour palletes and sharp, seamless cuts.
Despite being set in the future, it somehow manages to attain a gritty retro vibe. The detail and imagination that went into this film alone is so impressive, even the simplest scene of a pair of hands cutting up some sushi was visually pleasing and stunning enough to make anyone watch in awe. The creativity of their reality is carried out in Andersons’ typical stop-motion while their TV screens and CCTV footage are cleverly animated cartoons. You could spend hours just looking at the stills from the film, one scene in particular bared similarities from one of my favourite scenes from Bird Man. As seen below.
Despite the back and forth time jumps and chaptered breaks, something I (Amy) am usually critical of when used in film, Anderson managed to pull it off, adding comedic value and backstory, using its chapter subtitles well.
One question we had at the end of the film was who was this intended for? Our local cinema had 2 main showings, one in the day and one late at night. Looking at the audience, there were no children, despite being a stop motion about a 12 year old boy and dogs. The plot alludes to social and political satire, with dark themes such as dogs committing suicide and government conspiracies. So the fact that there are possibly parents out there taking their children out to see this film could be one of the funniest things about this movie.
Isle Of Dogs was the first Wes Anderson film we have seen on the big screen, and it is very much worth seeing, you don’t even have to be a fan of Anderson’s style to enjoy it, simply understand its going to be slightly strange and awkward. However it is also very fun, sad, and heartfelt throughout and nothing ever feels artificial. In our eyes it is an overall masterpiece!