Dog lovers rejoice for the “Isle of Dogs”, a film that uses unique stop-motion effects that couple smoothly with Wes Anderson’s visual style, and creates a riveting tale that reminds us why dogs are man’s best friend.
Wes Anderson’s narrative effectively created a compelling story filled with themes of companionship and redemption, but also formed a conversation that engaged viewers over their own experiences.
Centered around a pack of five dogs, they journey with a young boy in hopes of finding his lost dog, Spots. Two dogs, Rex and Chief, specifically were the focal points behind many complex issues tackled within the story.
As Rex became more favored among the pack, Chief became alienated which lead to him being forced into a relationship with the one he hated most, Atari. Their relationship would eventually blossom into a truly genuine bond that viewers had long hoped for.
This transition from a distrustful dog with nothing left to lose, to a loyal friend who put Atari before himself created an emotional narrative that by its conclusion, created a satisfying feeling.
Anderson fittingly utilized balanced shots that placed items of interest at dead center. In one scene, a top shot focused on Atari while he aimed his slingshot upward; the pack encircled him to help defend against surrounding hostiles. The result was a perspective that emphasized a desperation between friends fighting for what may have been their final moments together.
Though well-placed shots can do wonders, the real core of it all was the animation. Once again revisiting stop-motion, Anderson thought of new ways to push the medium. Unlike other stop-motion animations, textured materials were used to give their characters (or at least the dogs) a more gritty aesthetic that carried weight when motions were made.
Fights were often portrayed through Looney Tune-esque dust balls, meant to save time by not having to animate full scraps. A cluster of twine was used to create an image of dust arising, which gave a surreal impression.
According to the Huffington post, cultural appropriation has remained a valid concern since the movie’s release. They reported that Japanese culture was used as a stepping stone to get across different perspectives. Though this isn’t false, it was also a dystopian tale set 20 years into a vastly changed future. Just as a setting remains to be the background of any story, Japan had to take a supporting role to allow for the events to unfold.
For example, there were three men performing what was known as Taiko drumming, a popular form of percussion within Japan. It has very deep roots within Japanese theater and helped set the atmosphere during the telling of great tales. Though Anderson may have sacrificed some accuracy, he still gave homage when necessary while avoiding to sacrifice creativity.
Another visual marvel has arrived, and after considering how much went into its making, it’s rather unfortunate to see that very few theaters are actually offering to show it. Regardless, it’s worth a watch with an impressive A rating. In previous Wes Anderson films, dogs never stood a chance; it’s nice to know that this one portrays them right.