I saw Isle of Dogs (2018) last night at the cinema with a friend, and was delighted by it! The film is written and directed by Wes Anderson. It is a stop-motion animation with some big names voicing characters, including Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin and Scarlett Johnansson.
I don’t want to ruin the film for anyone so I won’t be going into the plot too deeply, but here is a brief summary. The film is set in the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, which is ruled by a despotic mayor with a deep hatred for dogs. A campaign of fear and mis-information about dogs has led to them all being rounded up and abandoned on Trash Island, away from the city. The mayor’s young nephew, Atari, has flown to the island to search for his beloved dog, Spots. He is helped by a gang of dogs in his quest, with the mayor doing everything he can to stop the dogs from returning to the city.
Whilst the plot may sound like it is aimed at children, and indeed its PG rating suggests the same, it most certainly is not. This is a film tackling big issues through the format of animation, not an animation about a beloved dog aimed at children. I would not recommend taking your children to see it! The film’s narrative brings up many current-day issues that we face in the world, such as the pollution of our environment; false news; genocide; and what it means to truly love someone. These issues are not brought jarringly to the front, but sit in the background for you to absorb with the film.
This film is different to most you will see in the cinema, and that’s a reason in itself to see it! There is Japanese dialogue in the film without English subtitles, as well as several haiku’s. These aspects add to the non-Hollywood blockbuster appeal of the film: you have to work with the film to understand things from context, as opposed to all plot lines being neatly explained.
I really enjoyed this film and cannot wait to see what Wes Anderson makes next!