Isle of Dogs (2018) – Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson delivers another highly-enjoyable stop-motion animated feature with Isle of Dogs. He penned the script from a story he developed with Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura, and Roman Coppola.

Set in a not-so-distant future in Japan, the story follows young Atari (Koyu Rankin) who travels to an island to seek out his missing canine, Spots (Liev Schreiber). Atari’s uncle, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), and his family have a long-standing hatred for dogs and has cooked up a canine flu and epidemic as a means to export them out of Japan to a remote island, with his ultimate plan being to eliminate them entirely.

While Atari seeks out his loyal friend/bodyguard, aided by a collection of dogs, Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Duke (Jeff Goldblum) and Boss (Bill Murray), an international student, Tracy (Greta Gerwig) and her fellow high schoolers are digging into the flu conspiracy even as Kobayashi makes another mayoral run.

Bouncing from Japanese to English, sometimes with translation provided by Frances McDormand, the film is delightfully quirky, exploring the relationship of man and dog as well as our occasional betrayal of that friendship for our own purposes.

Once again, Anderson’s attention to detail, his sense of design, storytelling and character style all get moments to shine. There’s some wonderful work on the animation, earning it an Oscar nomination for that and its score.

I love the little character beats that each character is allowed, fleshing out these wonderfully created beings, little things that make each of them unique and, though animated, real.

Anderson’s tales are always enjoyable, and I love the fact that he’s not confined to live action. In fact, I find myself hoping he has another animated feature in him, and soon. I also love that he has a stable of talent, in front of and behind the camera, that he likes to have join him on his projects.

Everyone delivers, and consequently, we are given an exceptional film that has laughter, tears, and a message or two.

I love the designs at work throughout the film, the dogs are wonderful, and one can absolutely lose oneself in studying the framing; all the little details that inundate each image, make it very much its own reality.

I’ll definitely have to keep scratching this Wes Anderson itch I’m having, I’m just sorry there aren’t more animated films to get through.

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