KAYLEE BREWSTERIf you love dogs and love filmmaker Wes Anderson, you’ll love everything about “Isle of Dogs.”
Anderson’s rich coloring style, centered framing and deadpan tone shines through in his latest stop-motion animation flick. It’s comical, quirky, beautiful and dark, giving it that quintessential Anderson feel, similar to his other works like “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.”
The story takes place in the not-too-distant future in Japan. After an outbreak of dog flu threatens the city, all dogs are quarantined on Trash Island. Atari (voiced by Koyu Rankin) flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots (voiced by Liev Schreiber). Instead of Spots he finds a ragtag pack of dogs: Rex (voiced by Edward Norton), Boss (voiced by Bill Murray), Duke (voiced by Jeff Goldblum), King (voiced by Bob Balaban) and Chief (voiced by Bryan Cranston).
Characters pass through Anderson’s vibrant landscape. Intricate details pop out of every set, even though it’s made of trash. The environments are unforgettable and stunning, leaving the viewer to wonder, “How did he do that?”
The characters also make the journey enjoyable. Most of the dogs has its own family it wants to return to. Each dog has its quirks. King comments on his past life as an actor for commercials. Boss reminisces about being a mascot. Rex breaks for a vote before any decision and Duke always asks, “Did you hear the rumors about … ?”
Then there’s Chief, the stray. He’s used to being alone and eating garbage and is unaccustomed to a human telling him what to do. While the other dogs revere Atari as “the master,” Chief is less obedient, to the shock of the pack. Chief is a tough fighter, telling the other dogs, “I bite.” He begins to soften toward the young pilot Atari, and their relationship brings an emotional component to the film.
In this way, “Isle of Dogs” is a funny and heartfelt love letter to our canine companions, showing our mutual affection on a magnificently animated canvas.