Isle of Dogs is the colloquial term given to Trash Island, a place where all the Japanese non-recycled rubbish goes to, just outside of the country.
Following a huge showdown between all the dogs and cats, resulting in almost a complete canine annihilation, a large number of the former have ‘dog flu’ and are exported to Trash Island for at least the next six months while scientists attempt to find a cure, but my first thought was – what are the animals actually surviving on in terms of food?? Since Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s Jeff Goldblum is the voice behind Duke, one of the dogs, perhaps life finds a way?
Naturally, some dogs want to give up, but Chief (Bryan Cranston) gives them a ‘pep talk’ in that he basically shouts at them… barking instructions (ho, ho)
That said, the dogs are surprisingly organised, and often take a vote to decide on how best to proceed.
Meanwhile, Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) is going for re-election – the whole process looking as rigged as that controlled by Putin, and a young lad called Atari (Koyu Rankin) drops in, looking for his dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber).
Isle Of Dogs tells a very simple story, but the stop-motion animation is fantastic, and I know I’ll have to watch this another two times, at least, to catch everything, but there’s also a couple of neat surprises/misdirection along the way.
It also has some classic Wes Anderson elements in, such as dividing the movie up into chapters (which I’ll wrap round a spoiler section, in case you don’t want to know them in advance):
Plus, many of Anderson’s usual cast are working with him again such as Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Bob Balaban, all the opening and closing credits are in both Japanese and English, and it’s stated early on that everyone speaks in their own language, but “all barks are rendered in English”.
Given that they were releasing a Wes Anderson movie right at the Easter weekend – clashing with big-hitters like Ready Player One and Pacific Rim Upirising, I really thought it would die on its bottom, as families would go and see those, but as Isle of Dogs is a PG certificate, and features stop-motion animation, I could see that even on a Tuesday afternoon, it had drawn in a much more sizable crowd than I was expecting even though I did wonder what on Earth they made of it all, the kids especially. That said, it’s a charming movie for both old and young alike, with humour that appeals to both.
In fact, the more I think about Isle of Dogs, the more I want to see it again right now… but not at Vue Lowry. As well as them switching the lights on too brightly during the closing credits, why do their cleaners keep coming in during those and then switching the BIG lights on?! As they bumbled in, with lots of people still in there, I made a point of asking them politely but firmly to switch them OFF! Christ, just check the CCTV before you enter and wait until everyone’s out!
Also available is the Soundtrack CD, Hardback book, Kindle book, and you can pre-order The Wes Anderson Collection: Isle of Dogs Hardback book, which is released on August 21st.
Running time: 101 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Released: March 30th 2018
Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson (based on a story by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Kunichi Nomura)
Producers: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales and Scott Rudin
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Chief: Bryan Cranston
Atari: Koyu Rankin
Rex: Edward Norton
King: Bob Balaban
Boss: Bill Murray
Duke: Jeff Goldblum
Mayor Kobayashi: Kunichi Nomura
Major-Domo: Akira Takayama
Tracy Walker: Greta Gerwig
Interpreter Nelson: Frances McDormand
Professor Watanabe: Akira Ito
Nutmeg: Scarlett Johansson
Gondo: Harvey Keitel
Jupiter: F Murray Abraham
Assistant-Scientist Yoko-ono: Yoko Ono
Oracle: Tilda Swinton
Head Surgeon: Ken Watanabe
Auntie: Mari Natsuki
Scrap: Fisher Stevens
Editor Hiroshi: Nijiro Murakami
Spots: Liev Schreiber
The Narrator: Courtney B Vance
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.