Isle of Dogs: A stop motion masterpiece

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By: Jon Recchia, Staff Writer

Wes Anderson is one of the best and most imaginative filmmakers working in the industry today. His unique way of storytelling has garnered him great critical success, and a large number of passionate fans. He has been nominated for four Oscars for movies including Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Anderson’s latest film, Isle of Dogs, is a strong addition to an impressive track record of films.

The movie follows a diseased group of exiled dogs, snatched away from their owners and sent to a trash island near a dystopian city in Japan.

The group teams up with a young boy to help him find his missing dog on the island and along the way, he uncovers the true reasons for their infection and banishment.

To no surprise, this film is pretty fantastic. It’s Anderson’s second go around at stop motion animation after the 2009 hit Fantastic Mr. Fox, and he does a masterful job.

Honestly, you can take away the story and dialogue completely, and you still have a film that is worth watching to marvel at the visuals Anderson and his team are able to pull off.

It is apparent how much passion and care goes into the presentation of this story.

Every character and set piece is handcrafted with immense care, even images that show up on a single shot. All movements of the camera, the lighting, the score and character motions are perfectly planned out.

Frankly, I struggle to think of a stop motion film out there that comes close to the breathtaking scenery captured in this film. On a technical level, this film is perfect!

Moving on to the other aspects, the voice acting and dialogue is superb.

Anderson pulls together an all-star cast to portray his characters, including Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton and many more recognizable faces in Hollywood.

Anderson’s signature quippy and eccentric dialogue shines yet again, fueling a humorous and dramatic story. Additionally, a large portion of the dialogue is in Japanese, portrayed by Japanese actors and actresses.

In most cases, the audience is not given subtitles for these words, forcing them pick up details from the visuals and English speaking translators presented in the film. This detail adds great authenticity to the film.   

Unlike the majority of stop motion films and Anderson’s own Fantastic Mr. Fox, this is not a movie for children.

Some of the imagery and story elements are pretty brutal, making use of the films PG-13 rating. It is very difficult to point out a problem I had with this movie, but I will say that the story itself is a little simplistic.

It had some predictable moments and there were aspects of the writing that weren’t as special as some of Anderson’s past works, but these details don’t really retract from this type of film.

This is something that needs to be appreciated as high quality piece of art, rather than just your typical movie. Isle of Dogs is the best film of 2018 so far.