Wes Anderson movies always have a creative and unique way of expressing themselves. When I see an Anderson movie, I know it’s his movie. "Isle of Dogs" was released April 13th this year and contains a large array of actors from Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, etc. There are many elements that stood out to me like cinematography, camera positioning, and screenwriting but the reason this movie deserves to be seen is the amount of love that went into making this movie. While watching "Isle of Dogs," I realized that this movie was so much fun to make just because it was so much fun to watch.
The story follows a group of dogs that have been left, like all other dogs in the movie, on Trash Island to fend for themselves when they are found to have snout fever, a deadly disease to all humans. Everything sucks, and they all want to get back home when they encounter a little boy looking for his lost dog, Spots. They all try to help him get back and then problems ensue, as is expected. It is a very interesting plot story but nothing too complicated. The only things that would not make sense to a large audience would be the references made about Japanese culture, at least to me. I know there were a lot of nods to Japanese elements that I did not catch but I still respected the whole movie. One thing I did catch was the mayor of the main city, Megasaki, was named Kobayashi, as a nod to the famous Japanese hot dog eating contest winner. This is one of those examples of a "just for fun" reference to something non-serious.
When watching this movie in the theaters, there were a lot of trailers for children’s animated movies for the only reason that "Isle of Dogs" is a Claymation movie, which means that it is a shot-by-shot take of all small movements of clay figurines. Despite the trailers, the movie never seemed childlike, especially since it was not a happy-go-lucky story with no moral. It is definitely a more adult movie, especially with some graphic scenes involving blood.
Speaking of morals, Wes Anderson tackles a lot of current problems today in this movie. A huge issue is the idea of refugees and why the United States and other countries are forcibly removing them, for political and economic reasons instead of moral ones. Another allusion was the concept of a corrupt and unreasonable leader, which can be seen in many countries today. This movie is about dogs, after all, so Wes Anderson shows his love for canines without being cliché. Like most children movies today, the only things dogs do are smell each other’s butt or play dumb or do silly things. "Isle of Dogs" contains intelligent and vulnerable dogs with human personalities and they talk about issues that bother them. For example, there is a stray dog that bites even though he doesn’t want to or know why he does it. It gets into the emotional struggle between owner and man’s best friend, from the dog’s perspective. There is a lot of current and moral concepts that Wes Anderson tackles and executes beautifully.
This is a Wes Anderson film, after all, and I could tell it was one even if I never looked it up because of his trademark camera work. There are many wide shots taken of a large room or field with all the characters interacting with each other in one long take. Most of the time, several events are happening at once on the screen and paying attention to any of them would still result in an enjoyable movie experience. An example from the movie occurs when the mayor is talking with his staff members about an issue. The left side of the screen has a rotating image switching every time someone else talks. The right side has a continual close-up of the typewriter paraphrasing the conversation on the left, getting closer with each turn of the left side. And again, all of this is being done with Claymation figurines that take a lot of time and patience to get right. To coin Wes Anderson as a genius would be an understatement.
5/5. This movie is for all audiences (at least old enough to see a little blood) that can enjoy true creativity and genius. A fun and enjoyable story that could only have been created by Wes Anderson. He also directed a Claymation before with his adaptation of "Fantastic Mr. Fox," originally a Roald Dahl book.