Isle of Dogs (2018)
Critic Consensus: The beautifully stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs finds Wes Anderson at his detail-oriented best while telling one of the director's most winsomely charming stories.
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as Mayor Kobayashi
as Professor Watanabe
as Tracy Walker
as Interpreter Nelson
as Assistant-Scientist Yoko-ono
as News Anchor
as Head Surgeon
as Editor Hiroshi
as Simul-Translate Machine
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Critic Reviews for Isle of Dogs
Anderson's projects have always had a meticulous quality to them, but "Isle of Dogs" is exacting to the point of alienation. Someone needs a leash.
It remains more a dazzling conceit or experiment rather than a realized whole. We stay on the outside, admiring its originality and all the talent that went into it, without ever really finding our way in.
Isle of Dogs is in need of a stronger storyteller. And, yes, there are times when the cleverness starts to feel smug. I would have liked Isle of Dogs more if there had been less of it.
Even with a narrative that feels more like a diagram, even with some questionable decisions regarding cultural translation, Isle of Dogs bursts with its maker's drollery and contagious passion for the medium of film.
Audience Reviews for Isle of Dogs
It would be easy to label Isle of Dogs as quirky. Hell, every Wes Anderson venture gets assigned the same dozen adjectives, including "whimsical" and "fairy-tale-esque." I prefer another word. Brilliant. Set in a dystopian Japan, where Tokyo is being governed by a pseudo-fascist mayor with a vendetta against dogs, all canines are exiled to a hellish island. The mayor's nephew goes on a quest to find his own dog and comes across a gang of mutts with goals of their own. Interestingly, a good chunk of the film's dialogue is in unsubtitled Japanese, as spoken by the humans. Our canine protagonists speak English and it is quite clear from this forced perspective (at least for Western audiences) that we are to view things from their point of view. Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animated movie, and while one may jump for joy that we have an animated children's movie that is not Pixar-style CGI, it's hard not to draw comparisons to Fantastic Mr. Fox. Fox was a bit deeper and bolder, but Isle ends up being more entertaining and approachable for children. The voice cast is EXACTLY who you would pick considering who shows up for 90% of this director's filmography and they are superb. But it's Bryan Cranston who does a lot of the heavy lifting and I would include this among his best work in the last few years. Yeah, I said that. Isle of Dogs is a smart and funny movie for older children and a probably a welcome relief to their parents, if they so choose to put this up on Netflix in a few months. Oh, and play it back to back with Moonrise Kingdom. That's still Wes Anderson's best wide release.
A brilliant stop-motion animated film, directed by one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson. A young Japanese boy, Atari Kobyashi, travels to the toxic wasteland where the dogs on Uni province have been banished, to find his beloved guard dog, Spots. The story tugs at your heartstrings, but never becomes maudlin, as there are moments of laugh out loud humor. The scenery and set design are fabulous. Each of the dogs has a distinct personality and the voice actors do a fabulous job of making that happen. The film is in Japanese and English, and some, but not all, of the Japanese is either translated to, or subtitled in, English. Much of what Atari says while on the island is left untranslated, but the emotion comes through anyway. The story is of a boy and his dog with a lot of political intrigue and social commentary cleverly presented.
The quirky imagination of Wes Anderson and his stylized, symmetrical, painterly approach to filmmaking has always seemed like a natural fit for the world of animation. Stop-motion has a wonderfully tactile and woebegone appreciation that furthermore seems like a natural fit, and 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of Anderson's best and most enjoyable films. If it were not for the considerable time it takes to make animated films, I'd be happy if Anderson stayed in this realm. Isle of Dogs is about a future where dogs are blamed for an infectious disease and as a result are banned and quarantined to a garbage island off the coast of Japan. One little boy dares to venture to this island to find his beloved missing dog. From there, he's escorted by a pack of dogs, led by Chief (voiced by Bryan Cranston), across dangerous tracks of the island while avoiding the boy's adopted family, the mayor of Nagasaki. This is a whimsical, beguiling, detail-rich world to absorb, but it also has splashes of unexpected darkness and violence to jolt (though the dark turns are consistently nullified). It's a highly entertaining movie although the characters and story are rather thin. The different dogs are kept as stock roles, and the main boy, Atari, is pretty much a cipher for dog owners. However, the film can tap into an elemental emotional response when discussing the relationship between man and dog. If you're a dog person, it's hard not to feel a twinge of emotions when a dog is given a loving owner and sense of family. There is one element of the movie that feels notably off, and that's the fact that the dogs speak English and the local Japanese characters speak their native tongue but without the aid of subtitles. it doesn't exactly feel like Anderson is doing this as a source of humor, but I can't figure out a good alternative reason for it. I'm sure Cranston's distinctive growl would have sounded just as good speaking Japanese. Regardless, Isle of Dogs is a mid-pack Wes Anderson fantasia of inventive imagination and well worth getting lost within. Nate's Grade: B
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