Isle of Dogs: Film Review

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I have, for as long as I can remember, held the opinion that Wes Anderson’s plots and premises are the product of drugs. He just had to be high writing some of this stuff, there’s no other way. Obviously I’m kidding, but seriously his stuff is just wacko sometimes, and Isle of Dogs is absolutely no exception. Set in a universe where all dogs in Japan are exiled to a trash heap in the middle of the ocean due to ‘severe disease’ propagation by a cat-loving president. While this led to political assassinations back in Japan, a twelve-year-old boy stole a plane, and crash landed on trash island, in a bid to find his old guard dog who could shoot his teeth like missiles. This could go on.

Despite what should really be described as the usual amount of crazy, Anderson shows off his skills as a storyteller, forcing great endearment for the many characters in the film. The main pack of five dogs, voiced by the ever-Anderson-present Ed Norton, Bill Murray, etc.; start as slightly obscure, almost caricature-ish character canvases, but manage to end the film full of spirit and quirkiness. The film’s screenplay is excellent, incorporating tonally effective humor with what started bizarre and ended up being a sweet, colorful narrative. The visual presentation of the piece, while not personally my cup of tea, is undeniably masterful, with Anderson really showing off his craft. His signature visual style, from the stop motion to the color palette, does well to exploit the depth of Anderson’s writing, which, despite a frankly weird premise, really comes through by the end. Even the human characters, such as twelve-year-old Atari, are fully drawn and developed, but the real pride for the story-boarders of this most peculiar of projects would have to be the arc of the dog called ‘Chief’.

It’s worth mentioning the funny moments of the film once again. Made potent by impeccable deliveries from the star studded cast of voice actors, Anderson writes dry, witty humor into the film. This was absolutely not something I was expecting going into the film, which I should really wise up to seeing as it manages to surprise me every time I watch a Wes Anderson film.

Anderson is without a doubt a talented story-teller with a unique, flavorful style. Speaking personally, I’m not a huge fan; I don’t really respond to his aesthetic and I find the oddness of his premises a little unsettling, but I can recognize a craftsman when I see one and Anderson quite obviously is one. I would recommend the film to any and all who are interested in coming out of a film with many, many more questions than answers, which is in of itself, an experience.

– Aman Datta


Aman’s Score – 67/100                                                                         Aryamaan’s Score –

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