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‘Isle of Dogs’ charms viewers with delightful canines

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A scene from Wes Anderson’s 'Isle of Dogs.'

A scene from Wes Anderson’s 'Isle of Dogs.'

Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox

Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox

A scene from Wes Anderson’s 'Isle of Dogs.'

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Fox Searchlight Pictures’ stop-motion comedy, Isle of Dogs, delights audiences with its quirky humor, style, and characters. Set in near-future Japan, in which a dog illness rapidly spreads leading to their banishment to Trash Island,  Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) goes on a daring journey in search of his dog.

There is no doubt that Wes Anderson brings his signature directorial style and writing flare to this film. With perfectly symmetrical shots, deadpan humor, and specific color schemes, fans of his previous works–such as Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox— will be treated to his familiar format. The contrast of color between the vibrant Megasaki City and dull Trash Island adds dimension to the world, as well as a realization of the dirty conditions the dogs are forced into. For those unfamiliar to Anderson’s unique style, it can take a few scenes to get accustomed to the structure of the film.

Having Isle of Dogs animated in stop-motion means there was endless amounts of care, detail, and hours that went to each frame of the film. Every aspect of the sets, costumes, and characters were handmade specifically for each scenes demands. This amount of dedication allows the audience to believe that the world is tangible. For instance, the moments where the dogs’ fur seem as if actual wind was blowing when in reality it was just an animator moving the hairs one frame at a time.

However, even if the movie is animated, it is not for little kids. With a rating of PG-13, Isle of Dogs has various scenes with cursing and many of the jokes are geared towards an older audience. While the pack of canines may look adorable, their dialogue packs a punch. The movie is also split between English and Japanese. Most of the human characters speak only Japanese, which is either translated by subtitles or an actual translator character within the film. On the other hand, the dogs solely speak English. This further illustrates why Isle of Dogs is made for an older audience.

Obviously, the dogs are the best part of the film. With an all-star cast behind the voices, each of the canines have unique and lovable personality. It is difficult not the get attached to the four-legged creatures when Bryan Cranston (Chief), Edward Norton (Rex), Jeff Goldblum (Duke), and Bill Murray (Boss) voice the characters. For instance, Goldblum brings hilarious charm to Duke’s love for gossip, which plays a role in moving the characters along the plot.

Any dog-lover, or animal-lover, can tap into the relationship that builds between Atari and Chief. The bond between a human and dog is a special connection and the movie does a great job of showing the emotions for both characters.

The whimsical atmosphere created by Anderson’s film design and the emotion established by the fantastic voice actors makes Isle of Dogs a rich movie experience for those who enjoy a non-traditional movie format.

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