Film review: While it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, Isle of Dogs is an engaging, beautifully animated tale

Isle of Dogs. Picture: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Isle of Dogs. Picture: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX - Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

From crime-comedy Bottle Rocket (1996) to comedy-drama The Grand Budapest Hotel (2013), director Wes Anderson has made some of the most visually striking and whimsical films of the past decade that often manage to be both exhilarating and wearying.

The same is very much the case for his stop-motion comedy-adventure Isle of Dogs.

Set in a dystopian future Japan, the film focuses on Atari (Koyu Rankin) who sets out in search of his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) after all canines are banished to the titular Island by the cat-loving, despotic mayor Kobayashi (Kunishi Nomura).

Much like his previous stop-motion venture The Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), Anderson and his team of animators expertly blend breathtaking visuals with his trademark absurdist humour - one particularly amusing macabre gag sees part of a propeller protruding from the central protagonist’s head for a large portion of the film.

The voice cast is universally superb, particularly Bryan Cranston’s grizzled, horrifically scarred hound Chief who becomes an unwilling protector to Atari. Edward Norton’s neurotic Rex and Schreiber’s loyal, baritone-voiced Spots are also standouts.


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If, like this particular reviewer, you are much happier in the company of and have a preference for animals of the more feline variety the film’s emotional underpinnings are unlikely to resonate and the experience of spending 101 minutes with the various assortment of pooches at times proves to be rather tiresome.

While it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, Isle of Dogs is an engaging, beautifully animated tale.

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