By JUN YUN
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated comedy, Isle of Dogs, is beautifully written and directed. The animation is profoundly illustrated, characters are emotionally touching and the story is surprisingly impactful. There is immense creativity throughout this film, a story of diseased dogs being rescued from a trashed island of dystopian future Japan.
Anderson succeeded with many audiences after his Fantastic Mr. Fox film from 2009. Visually, Isle of Dogs exceeds the qualities of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The stunning visuals in this film are aggressively breathtaking and inspire audiences to engage in the remainder of the story. Anderson manages to attach a unique emotional endearment to his motion-capture images, which requires immense labor and time to craft such illusions of movement. The symmetrically designed frame shots, rich repertoire of colors and the roughly rendered animations are reminiscent of traditional cartoons. However, unlike Fantastic Mr. Fox, Isle of Dogs strives for a more mechanical perfection in every image; every single shot in this film seems to be delicately planned and positioned, making for a tangible visual masterpiece. Even the more graphic moments in this film, including a kidney transplant scene, albeit disturbing, were breathtakingly beautiful in production and properly conveyed grotesque emotions.
Another fantastic component of Isle of Dogs was the voice work of the characters. With the story set in dystopian Japan, it was quite impressive to hear the Japanese language spoken throughout the movie, sans subtitles. While Anderson received heavy criticism for his political depiction of Japanese culture, he manages to preserve traditions through the use of the Japanese language. Anderson’s cultural reverence and dedication to an accurate storyline makes for authentic characters. Additionally, the dogs provide for wonderfully memorable characters; the dogs’ story of abuse and physical hardship makes for an impactful storyline. Each dog seems to possess an eccentric personality, in part due to the impressive voicing of cast members including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton. In the end, the characters are both memorable and lovable; the manner in which the dogs embark on a dangerous journey, encountering hapless predicaments and caring for each other, makes for a charming and delightful story of loyalty.
One of the most significant themes in the movie may not even be the political idea of government propaganda. Rather, Isle of Dogs masterfully portrays the innate bond between human and dog. Anderson does a marvelous job illustrating the inherent loyalty that a human can share with his or her dog, a trustworthy companion. Anderson has the dogs in this film cry alongside their human companions, a touching gesture of compassion, friendship and unwavering dependence. Such subtle gestures that Anderson contributes to this film foster one of his finest movies to date. Isle of Dogs can be considered one of the most charming films of the year.