‘Isle of Dogs’: An Impressive, Charming Aesthetic Masks an Underwhelming Story

In Ben Escobar, Featured, Movie Reviews, Reviews by Impact Admin

By Ben Escobar –

I love dogs. Who doesn’t? Wes Anderson definitely does, and it shines throughout his latest film, cleverly titled, Isle of Dogs.

Known for his signature style that replicates that of a quirky perfectionist telling a story around a campfire, Wes Anderson’s latest film is no exception to that reputation. While I found the film to be a charming love letter to canines across the world, Isle of Dogs never seemed to evolve beyond a simple tale of “Cats vs. Dogs” with some eye-catching imagery. But even then, despite a simple story, the style gradually wore out after what felt like two hours—so much that the person seated next to me fell asleep.

Now, while I don’t entirely doubt the artistic ability of Wes Anderson, I will say that Isle of Dogs is something that will definitely not be forgotten in the coming years. However, if I am going to try to forget anything about the film, it will likely be the underwhelming story and failed gags scattered throughout the film.

Isle of Dogs showcases a beautiful disaster of a trash-ridden island inhabited by exiled dogs from a cat-loving society. Shot with impressive stop-motion techniques, the dogs are the obvious highlight of the film. Their look, movements, and dialogue are all unique to their respective breeds and characters, and it is impossible to overlook the amount of attention to detail and love that went into the film’s creation. It rekindled a new appreciation for dogs that I haven’t felt since childhood, and reciprocated an almost Toy Story-like approach to bringing a humanity to dogs, as Toy Story did for toys.

Packed with a stellar voice acting cast including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, and more, the cast brings charming character to the many breeds of dogs that flood the Japanese-inspired world. While the film contains many simple conclusions to large problems that felt almost too easily won, there are a handful of undeniably hilarious and charming repeating gags that Wes Anderson includes—specifically cotton ball dust clouds with a storm of limbs, claws, and teeth being thrown at whatever obstacle stands in the way of the dogs. It was through moments like this, and other ongoing jokes of “all in favor of…” being repeated amongst the dogs, that kept my attention throughout, reminding me not to take everything Anderson shows too seriously.

Still, after seriously thinking about what exactly the story was attempting to say beyond the surface level of exiled pets, I am struggling to find anything relevant in regard to the film’s thematic statements that aren’t too far-fetched. Perhaps after lengthy discussions there could be something to retain from Isle of Dogs, however it feels right to settle with the film serving as a charming experience at the movies that appeals to an audience looking for a fun, but mature story to remember for the coming years—and a friendly reminder of our sometimes forgotten family pets that are meant always stay as man’s best friend.

VERDICT: 7.5/10

Pros:

+ Charming Characters/Aesthetic For All Animal Lovers
+ Impressive Stop-Motion Animation
+ Memorable World
+ Will Rekindle Your Love For Your Dog

Cons:

-Forgettable Story
-Not For Everyone
-Vague/Non-Existent Thematic Statement(s)


About the Author

Ben Escobar is a screenwriting and production student at JPCatholic (Class of 2018) who boasts an immense love for all things relating to the art of cinema. His favorite director is Richard Linklater and his favorite movie is Swiss Army Man.

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