Isle of Dogs (2018)
Article 5539 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Wes Anderson
Featuring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Country: USA / Germany
What it is: Boy and his dog story… among other things.
Twenty years in the future, the city of Megasaki banishes its entire dog population to an island used for trash, ostensibly to prevent a canine plague from passing on to humans. However, a young boy arrives on the island, intent on finding his dog, and a pack of dogs helps him on his quest.
I’m glad to be covering a Wes Anderson film here, as he’s one of my favorite directors; I haven’t covered him so far because for a long time my series didn’t cover recent movies. His previous animated film, FANTASTIC MR. FOX, worked as both a good example of his oeuvre and as a children’s movie. This one is decidedly more adult, which means that its probably destined to remain in the art house circuit. Still, I found it a fascinating and thrilling film, so visually rich that I suspect it might take several viewings to catch all the details hidden around the edges. It’s both science fiction (futuristic setting, technology, robot dogs) and fantasy (talking dogs), and it could possibly be described as a political satire (and, given its theme of political scapegoating, a very relevant one) masquerading as a weird variant of the “boy and his dog” story. Many of the scenes are signature Anderson, and the movie is infused with a great deal of Japanese culture. Despite the fact that a good number of name actors provide the voices for the characters, this never becomes a distraction where you keep noticing the voices; the focus remains squarely on the characters. If I had to pick my favorite touch in the movie, it’s that the scenes that take place on the various television screens in the movie are done in a different style of animation as the main movie. If you’re not a Wes Anderson fan, I doubt this one will convert you, but for me, it was a real treat.