It may have come out two weeks ago, but my theater finally received one of the weirdest movies to grace the theaters. Tonight, a friend and I hit the theaters to check out the critically acclaimed Isle of Dogs, a stop motion feature that looks to be part creepy, part weird, and 100% unique. What lies on the isolated Trash Island and its furry inhabitants? Please read on to hear my thoughts as I review:
Movie Title: Isle of Dogs
Animation: With computer graphics dominating the field, it’s nice to see a deviation from the traditional Disney and DreamWorks presentation. Isle of Dogs unique design is the most recognizable component of the film, a well-crafted blend of various Japanese art styles cooked and mixed into a cuisine of delightful fun. All the characters have a variety of qualities and traits to their models, many standing out in some concept that defines the very character you get hooked on. The stop motion like quality adds charisma and comedy to the mix, giving the movie a nice originality. Yes, it is not the smoothest animation to come out of the woodwork, but all the personality behind it makes up for it.
The Voice Acting: With the cavalcade of stars taking up ranks in the voice acting department, Isle of Dogs is well equipped for voicing their characters. Each star or starlet brings some component to the movie, be it comedic, blunt presentation, mysterious allure, or a heartfelt emotional speech to inspire and move. The writing set these unique cast members up for some hilarious bickering/bashing one another, developing a relationship that at times feels like a dysfunctional family of Full House and other times like Lord of The Flies. Certainly, this voice work deserves some award recognition, but enjoy everything it has to bring.
The Comedy: My friend and I could not stop laughing at all the comedic relief packed into this movie. As mentioned previously, the voice acting has a lot to do with bringing the full comedic punch of the writing, with Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, and Bryan Cranston being my particular favorites. Past the writing, the movie’s pokes at a lot of cultural stigmatisms, references, and stretches of the imagination that many animate features take. And even the sheer ridiculousness of the movie is fun to laugh out, classy jabs that work well and fit into the story.
The Story/Culture: Isle of Dogs is certainly the odd story to say the least, the tale really has a lot of gusto behind it. Its presentation is certainly clever, feeling much like a TV soap opera with a little anime and political thriller all rolled into one. These genres may not seem like they would mix well, but Anderson and company have managed to tie these components together in an entertaining manner. As the Japanese culture of modern and ancient Japan clash, the various principles and ethic codes come to a full boil as Atari’s Odyssey adventure progresses across the wasteland that is trash island. The emotional fire, the tension of friendship, and even the corruption that lies beneath it all, were all well-balanced to the point of keeping things engaging and entertaining.
DISLIKES: (More like limitations)
More Time with Other Characters: We got a decent balance of characters with this cast, but I would have liked more time with some of the other dogs. Chief and Spots have a majority of the screen time, and while the other dogs got their moments to shine, I wanted more of their involvement in the story. The ending in particular could have used their individual skills to get to the end game.
The Pace: The movie has a little inconsistency in regards to how it moves when presenting the story. Some parts move excessively quick, while others are a little drawn out and oversaturated with their odd eccentricities and banter. Eventually the pace smooths out, but the movie took a little while find it’s rhythm and get to the ideal mix of all the story qualities.
The Limited Audience: This movie’s uniqueness is not going to be for everyone and that limitation is going to be difficult to overcome. The Movie is not going to be for everyone, and if you aren’t ready for odd criteria, specific cultural references, and drier senses of humor. So therefore, this movie is not going to expand to a lot of people and be lost to other, more widespread audience members.
Isle of Dogs is certainly one of the more unique movies to hit the silver screen, trading traditional presentation for an angle that most don’t play. It’s got culture, story, fantastic design, and voice acting that really pops, locks, and in many cases rocks. However, the movie is not going to be for everyone, as the odd style, dryer comedy, and cultural references may not be appreciated by many. For those liking this unique style though, this is the movie for you and certainly one of Anderson’s better films to hit the screen. So definitely check this out in theaters while you can and enjoy getting creeped out by the penetrating gaze of most of the cast.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 8.0