by British Awakening – 13 Apr 2018
Isle of Dogs is a stop motion animated film set in Japan that tells the story of a young boy Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin)and his journey to rescue his dog Spots (Live Schreiber). Most of his adventures take place on an island where all dogs have been sent under quarantine as a result of an outbreak of canine flu on the mainland. In his search he befriends a stray dog Chief voiced by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and unexpected support from a group of dog lovers on the mainland led by an American student Tracy (Greta Gerwig) and a research scientist Yoko (Yoko Ono). Atari’s quest is set against the backdrop of the attempts by some corrupt politicians to seize power in mainland Japan, their success dependent on Atari failing.
The director Wes Anderson calls on a number of actors he used in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum and those of you familiar with another Anderson work, Fantastic Mr. Fox will immediately recognise the animation.
Now I have to admit to one of the reasons I went to see this movie, I am a dog lover and any dog lover will connect with this movie. That said although there are scenes designed to play on our attachment to dogs such the soulful eyes routine all dog owners know (gets me every time) the film successfully avoids being overly sentimental, the use of dogs in animal experiments is a topic Anderson raises a number of times.
Professional critics would probably have a deeper understanding of the film’s message but for me it is a straightforward quest movie, with talking dogs (hey I believe it). It does have a lot to say about us and our curious relationship with nature that on the one hand our species is capable of inflicting unspeakable horrors and cruelty of the fauna we share the planet with but on the other there is a healing, spiritual quality to our nature. Someone once said dogs are angels, if so then perhaps dogs help us find the better angels of our hearts.
I encourage you to go and see this movie, it rattles along at a nice pace, there are some good gags and some heart-warming moments but nothing too taxing just 100 minutes of easy entertainment.
Isle of Dogs
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements and some violent images)
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Runtime: 101 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.