Isle of Dogs is Wes Anderson’s newest film and is an utter delight for all the dog lovers out there. It takes place in a fictional Japanese city where they outlaw dogs and send them to an island full of garbage. A young boy named Atari flies to the trash island to find his dog, Spots, and on his journey he befriends a pack of dogs and tries to save their fate.
The voicework here is pretty top notch, especially from Bryan Cranston who voices the main dog – Chief. And the animation here is simply magnificent, especially for the dogs. These dogs have gone through some really rough times, so they are battered, ragged, and dirty. They also did really great work with their faces, which at times be really subtle and other times be a little over the top.
It would be remiss to not talk about Anderson’s decision to not use subtitles in the film. Instead everything is either translated or explained by English speaking characters, at least everything important. This is an odd choice to make, I know some people don’t like subtitles, but I wouldn’t think Anderson would make this decision to appeal to those people. This takes place in a Japanese city, where every human (except one foreign exchange student) speak Japanese so without the use of subtitles I did feel disconnected to the humans on the city. Anderson, of course, would want the viewer to feel more from the perspective of the dogs, but without the subtitles you can’t really understand the other sides point of view – why they would want to outlaw all dogs.
I also need to comment that this film has some very bloody parts to it with dog fights and the like so, while it may be marketed as a “kids” film. I would say do not take your younger kids to see it – it’s rated PG 13 for a reason and the humor in the film seems to be more aimed at adults. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s other stop motion film, is much more suited for kids.
But overall I really enjoyed Isle of Dogs, it made me want to hug every dog I see and the animation was simply spectacular. I give it an A-