Movie review: Isle Of Dogs
This is one dog movie that will receive a bark of approval from even cat lovers, like yours truly (even though felines and their fans don't get a good rep here).
Oh, and it has bite too.
Zippy, entertaining and full of charm and satirical wit, the story sucks you in from tableau-setting start to triumphant finish. It is bookended by adrenaline-pumping taiko drumming, with every turn of the plot bringing new revelations and delights.
There's so much attention to detail in the visuals and dialogue, you'll need repeated viewings to catch all the jokes.
As his previous projects have shown, Anderson is a consummate juggler, so the deadpan comedy is well-balanced with serious undertones, as anti-dog fear-mongerers advocate exiling - and ultimately killing - dogs under the pretext of curbing a spreading canine flu.
It strikes a chord, because isn't this a storyline -the usurping of human rights (read dogs for humans here) that has been all too real outside the cinema?
Isle Of Dogs also comes alive in its perfect voice casting.
The central pack of dogs (Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum) led by the alpha dog Chief (Bryan Cranston) have bittersweet backstories - of being tamed, mastered and eventually scorned by humans, but their banter is one of the highlights.
Secondly, stop-motion animation is so infrequently given wide theatrical releases, you will feel like you are transported to another - more retro - realm.
Luckily for us, Isle Of Dogs is top dog in that department.
From watching the trailer, those mutts initially creeped me out as they looked like they were infected with rabies or came from the set of The Walking Dead.
But they grow on you - so much so you may have an urge to rush out and adopt non-animated versions after the movie.
Another idiosyncratic twist is that all the Japanese characters - even boy protagonist Atari (Koyu Rankin) - speak at length in unsubtitled Japanese, only some of which is translated (to hilarious results) by an interpreter or a machine.
Naturally, certain quarters have questioned whether Isle Of Dogs is an act of cultural appropriation or an homage to its source material.
Personally, I think Anderson has crafted a love letter, and it's safe to say I've fallen hard.
MOVIE: Isle Of Dogs
STARRING: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
THE SKINNY: An outbreak of canine flu in Japan leads all dogs to be quarantined on an island. A boy (Rankin) journeys there to rescue his dog Spots and gets help from a pack of misfit canines who have also been exiled. His quest also inspires a group of dog lovers to expose a government conspiracy.
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