Film

Isle of Dogs (Film Review) – Decent But Not Wes Anderson’s Greatest Achievement

Isle of Dogs is a stop motion animated film written and directed by Wes Anderson which stars Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Bob Balaban, Harvey Keitel, Courtney B. Vance, Frances McDormand, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Koyu Rankin and Bryan Cranston. The film takes place in a near-future dystopian Japan and the story centres on a young boy called Atari (Koyu Rankin). Atari goes on a mission to find his dog after the entire species is banished to a trash island due to an illness outbreak.

My Expectations For Isle of Dogs

A lot of film fans are always craving for originality in the films they see and they should look no further than Wes Anderson when it comes to this wish. Without a doubt, Wes Anderson is one of the most creative forces in the film industry. Since the 1990s, he has provided us with extremely quirky, fresh stories in his films and Isle of Dogs looked no different. Yet, I was slightly concerned going into this film.

For one, Wes Anderson has ventured into stop motion animation before in the form of Fantastic Mr. Fox and I was not a huge fan of that film. I was worried that Isle of Dogs would be a film in a similar sort of vein to Fantastic Mr. Fox and I wanted it to be completely different. Moreover, this film, while receiving mostly positive reviews, has received criticism in the way it represents Japanese culture and I did not want Isle of Dogs to come across as disrespectful.

Bryan Cranston as Chief in Isle of Dogs

Still, despite my small concerns, I was mostly optimistic going into Isle of Dogs due to how much I love some of Wes Anderson’s films such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The voice cast for Isle of Dogs was also very impressive which was another thing that excited me about seeing this film.

My Thoughts On Isle of Dogs

Overall, I thought Isle of Dogs was a decent film. I certainly preferred it to Fantastic Mr. Fox but it is nowhere near Wes Anderson’s best film. Still, before I talk about negative elements of the film, let me talk about what I liked about Isle of Dogs. For one, as was the case with Fantastic Mr. Fox and practically every stop motion animated film I have seen, the animation is great.

Stop motion animation is something which is a painstakingly long labour of love and I always respect filmmakers who use this type of animation in their creations. The quality of the animation in Isle of Dogs was evident to see. It is a beautiful film to look at. I also thought that the story in this film is quite touching at times, especially when it deals with the bond between dogs and humans. Certainly, I would contest that Isle of Dogs is a love letter to dogs. As a result, dog lovers are going to get something out of it.

Atari in Isle of Dogs

Bad Pacing

However, the story in Isle of Dogs is badly paced for a good chunk of its running time. Even for a film that is 90 minutes long, it is extremely slow which, as always, harms re-watchability. Isle of Dogs truly felt like it was a short film that was unnecessarily elongated so it could be a full-length feature film. Additionally, I was also disappointed that the film was not as funny as I wanted it to be and it was strikingly similar to Fantastic Mr. Fox in that regard.

This was a terrible shame as, most of the time, I find Wes Anderson’s live-action films to be hilarious. Yet, as I previously stated, I do prefer Isle of Dogs over Fantastic Mr. Fox. But, even though I generally liked this film, it is not something that I will rush to watch again.

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