ISLE OF DOGS Movie Review: A barkingly witty, delightful and smartly layered cult
Crunchy, salty and tasty says the ‘Chief ‘in the movie and declares it as his favorite meal, in all possibility the same sentiment might be shared by the audience notwithstanding whether they have a canine in their family or not.
The magnificent Wes Anderso’s second stop-motion animated feature (after FANTASTIC MR. FOX) - ISLE OF DOGS, is not only a love letter to canines, it’s a testimony that the auteur with a different arc - Wes Anderson is influenced by the father of Asian cinema Akira Kurosawa more than the stop - motion animation studios of the world. Amazing!!
Ever since 2009, Wes Anderson has made a terrific impact with his profound wizardry and set a rare example by staying in the Hollywood studio system and still churning fabulously quirky piece of art with an ‘indie’ stamp that can travel continents after continents beginning with FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009), MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012), THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014) and of course HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (2015). With ISLE OF DOGS the maverick returns to animation and again imagines beyond ‘US’.
This time it’s a probing peep into the aesthetics we develop as a human being and later the obsession to rule and turn ‘masters’ results in grisly attack on beliefs, identity and loyalty told through a futuristic story set in an imaginary dystopian Japanese city by the name Megasaki. An outbreak of canine flu in Japan leads all dogs to be quarantined on an island. A boy (voice of Koyu Rankin) journeys there to rescue his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber), and gets help from a pack of misfit canines who have also been exiled. His quest inspires a group of dog lovers to expose a government conspiracy. The voice cast also includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, and Yoko Ono.
Right from the beating of drums to the voice behind Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) ode to Kurosava is felt in regular intervals giving the déjà vu of those topical crime thrillers THE BAD SLEEP WELL, HIGH AND LOW. Even the vintage Japanese monster movies get their share of ode in this cleverly imagined brilliant piece of stop - motion animation picture which is meticulously crafted frame-by-frame.
The elegantly animated historical woodcuts, to the Trash island, the stamp of Wes Anderson is evident as an animated vintage plane crashes on the garbage land – thrash land where the dogs are now kept under suspicion of flu and other dangerous disease.
The layers are so fascinatingly interconnected that it mesmerizes you to the hilt, humanity, animal instincts, loyalty, culture, future, all is dealt with perfection. It’s filled with metaphors.
The voiceovers are extraordinary - Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray & Jeff Goldblum are just perfect.
Wes Anderson has been nominated for six Oscars before and ISLE OF DOGS may win him another nomination, this is Wes Anderson’s best in terms of imagination and execution a perfect animation picture which will make you think like an adult at one time and in another moment can get you excited like a kid.
ISLE OF DOGS - Wes Anderson brilliant imaginary painted in his trademark vivid colors under the banner of Fox Search Light, has already won the Silver Bear for the director at the Berlin this year.
It’s not just that profound vision, it’s the execution, the ode to the Asian Father Figure – Kurosawa, the relevance of the idea and its comment on the political system that makes ISLE OF DOGS a barkingly witty, delightful and a smartly layered cult that don’t come often.
Movie Cast & Crew
- Producer: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
- Director: Wes Anderson
- Music Director: Alexandre Desplat
- Production house: Indian Paintbrush, American Empirical Pictures
- Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures