An Artistically Crafted Stop Motion Film
Wes Anderson’s stop motion film Isle Of Dogs is a charming, artistically crafted adventure about dogs being banished as a result of an outbreak of canine flu. This amusing, sneeze-filled 90 minute film manages to blend humour and touching drama in impressive fashion, ticking all the technical boxes with its gorgeous cinematography and harmonious use of colour and lighting. There’s a real attention to detail here too in every painstakingly created scene making Isle Of Dogs one of the more unique, impressive offerings to come out this year.
The story is relatively straight forward leaving lots of room to breathe Wes Anderson’s unique artistic flavour into the picture. Following an outbreak of canine flu, the entire dog population of Japan are banished from the fictional city of Megasaki to the neighbouring Trash Island. Fighting over scraps of food and suffering from the effects of the flu, the dogs are forced to try and survive in this unforgiving new land. When a plane crashes on the island and a little boy called Atari, steps out looking for his lost dog, what follows is an adventure that sees a group of canines joining Atari as he searches for his lost dog. Isle Of Dogs is beautifully written, raising some thought provoking questions around the power of propaganda and manipulating governments while weaving some original ideas around man’s best friend within the usual quest storyline seen in these sort of films.
It’s worth mentioning the soundtrack here too, the thumping drums and iconic Japanese instruments including Kugos and Lutes give the film a distinct Asian flavour for large bouts of the run time. Without it, Isle Of Dogs could easily just be another stop motion film but like Kubo & The Two Strings a few years back, the music really helps accentuate what’s happening on screen and works harmoniously alongside the flawless stop motion animation.
Isle Of Dogs is unlike many other films out there which inevitably means it won’t be for everyone. The humour is well implemented and the handful of celebrity voices for the dogs certainly help sell the performances but Isle Of Dogs is much more interested in presenting its material in an artistic, unconventional way which may turn some away. Isle Of Dog’s Asian flavour, themes around dictatorships and deliberate use of odd and impressive scene placement further hammer this point home and may disappoint those expecting a more conventional method of filming.
Having said all that, Isle Of Dogs is a charming, beautifully written adventure and one of the most artistically crafted stop motion films to come out in quite some time. All the characters have enough personality and development here and their interactions with each other and Atari himself play on the usual conventional tropes you’d expect to find in a film like this with enough originality to keep this one feeling fresh throughout. The beautifully crafted scenes and painstakingly detailed stop motion certainly make this an impressive technical venture too in what’s easily one of this year’s best animated features.