Isle of Dogs (2018)


Directed by Wes Anderson
Country: USA / Germany

Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion animation film is a kitschy Japanese canine adventure with a cool posture and deadpan humor. The celebrated filmmaker, author of cult comedies such as “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, co-penned the story with regular partners Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, but this time also counted on Kunichi Nomura in the script and voice. Besides the latter, the ensemble voice cast includes Courtney B. Vance (narrator), Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, and many more.

The story is set in Megasaki City, where the authoritarian mayor Kobayashi (Nomura) orders the capture and extradition of every single dog to Trash Island after a mysterious dog-flu outbreak. The smelly dogs have to fight each other to impede starvation on a filthy island that is merely a pile of garbage filled with chemicals, toxic waste, and hundreds of rats looking for food.


Spots (Liev Schreiber), the faithful dog of Atari Kobayashi (Royu Rankin), the mayor’s 12-year-old nephew, is the first dog officially deported from the city. The brave Atari flies to the island to retrieve him. His plane crashes, but he is rescued by a pack of five dogs led by Chief (Cranston), a stray that never sits or fetches and usually bites the humans who try to pet him. Against the odds, man and dog embark on a frenzied adventure threaten by Kobayashi’s robotic dog-machines and the uncorroborated presence of wild aboriginal cannibal dogs.

In the meantime, Dr. Watanabe (Akira Ito), the one who invented the dog-flu serum is assassinated in a conspiracy theory unmasked by American exchange student Tracy Walker (Gerwig).

Delightfully atypical, and conveying a deliberated laid-back narration filled with a bunch of political metaphors, “Isle of Dogs” disconcerts with a decaying spectacle of images that, even not so colorful or stunning, go well with the impeccably stylized, surrealistic atmosphere. Just like “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, this is another funny, clever, and imaginative animated fable.