Isle of Dogs Movie Review: Fascinatingly creative anime-comedy

Updated: Jul 31, 2018, 14:15 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

The animation is smooth, the characters are quite vivid and most of the dialogue are lightly comedic. The familiar voice cast helps keep the attachment going.

Isle of Dogs
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Akira Ito, Akira Takayama, Koyu Rankin, Courtney B. Vance, Yoko Ono, Mari Natsuki, Liev Schreiber, Yojiro Noda, Frank Wood
Director: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson’s creative genius comes to the fore in this stop-motion animation science-fiction-fantasy-comedy and it’s quite a joy to behold. The story about how unchecked authoritarian human behavior can devastate the well-being of a State and its inhabitants may ring a bell and why not when we are seeing that very trait in the current political dispensations ruling the major countries across the world.

The narrative involves a city in future Japan getting infected by incurable canine diseases and how the authoritarian official’s decision to quarantine the canines in an off-shore trash island reeks of catering to majoritarian compulsions. There’s also the mention of a nefarious agenda of marginalising and eliminating rivals in order to vanquish all opposition, behind that decree. So obviously there’s a real-world current affairs statement of the purpose behind this stunningly crafted exercise.

The dog flu virus in Megasaki City has become a major problem. Although scientist Professor Wantanabe is close to a cure, the mayor, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), determines that the best solution is to banish all dogs to Trash Island – starting with Spots (Liev Schreiber), the pet of his ward, Atari (Koyu Rankin). "Whatever happened to man's best friend?" asks Megasaki’s official news translator (Frances McDormand), her intonations conveying immense pathos and affection for the once most loved pets. And the scene thereafter shifts forward into the future. The canines who scavenged and survived destitution now roam the Island and Atari crash-lands into that dangerous territory in search of his pet.

The experience hinges largely on flashy technique. The animation is smooth, the characters are quite vivid and most of the dialogue are lightly comedic. The familiar voice cast helps keep the attachment going. The film is replete with interesting historical asides and flashes back into the past with unfettered ease. An amusing prologue supported by a mural concludes with a droll haiku, keeping us abreast of the historical significance of dogs within the Japanese archipelago. The story is narrated in segmented fashion with interesting narrative turns. Production designers Adam Stockhausen and Paul Harrod fashion elaborate set-pieces ( especially the trash-processing plant and poison-laden Bento food box) with a visual detailing that is incredibly fascinating. Wes Anderson’s unique creation is both technically dazzling and steadfastly entertaining. You really cannot afford to miss this one!

Watch Isle of Dogs Trailer

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