Movie Review: Isle of Dogs
By Isabella Kwon
The stop motion film directed by Wes Anderson is set in the fictional Japanese city Megasaki in the midst of a dog flu outbreak, which has caused the city to turn their back on man’s best friend in fear that this epidemic could spill over into the human population. By executive decree, all canine pets in Megasaki are exiled to Trash Island, a garbage dump, where the dogs are left to die. The story follows a young boy, 12-year-old Atari, who has crash-landed onto the island in search of his guard dog, Spot, through his journey in which he is faced with many decisions that may flip Megasaki upside-down.
Personally, I believed that this was the one of the greatest, if not the greatest, stop motion films that has ever been created. Ever since I was traumatized with the movie Coraline, stop motion films have left me with an unsettled feeling... as if the Other Mother was standing behind me with her bony hands hovering over my neck. Isle of Dogs allowed me to view stop motion from a more harmless, Tim-Burtonless style (I know the man’s a genius when it comes to movie directing , but sometimes I worry for his mental state, especially when I watch his stop motion films) with beautiful colors and creative sets that were aesthetically pleasing. For example, Wes Anderson’s perfect symmetry in every shot allow the eyes to relax and simply enjoy the scene. Another aspect of the movie that I really appreciated was the structure of the plot. Although I cannot get into much detail without spoiling it, the overall storyline of the film was very refreshing in comparison to the many complex plots that involve a plethora of main characters with complicated back stories that are filling our theatres today. And the story wasn’t heavy, but rather light-hearted. Though the film didn’t carry an overall life lesson for the audience, the ending was nice and sweet, which gave the audience.
I know that if you haven’t watched this movie and you’re reading this review, you’re angry. You’re probably complaining about how I “gave away” the happy ending and now watching it won’t be the same. WRONG. There’s something in the atmosphere set up by the movie in which you can tell that the story will end happily even if you didn’t have the ending spoiled to you by some lousy kid just trying to finish her Journalism project, yet you still experience the emotional ups and downs that the film triggers.
My favorite aspect of this film, however, was the attention to detail such as the title. The phrase “Isle of Dogs,” when said very quickly, can be misheard as “I love dogs” a clever touch by Anderson to milk the hearts of dog lovers observant enough to catch it. Also, the fact that the humans in the film are speaking a different language allows the audience to empathize more with the dogs. This inability to understand some of the characters forced the audience to search for visual cues such as facial expressions/gestures as well as the tone of voice to interpret what the humans were trying to communicate much like how dogs interpret us. This is the type of film that deserves a 10 out of 10 in my book.