When Wes Anderson released Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009, there was a certain element of surprise attached to the animation. It was a film so starkly different to what the director was known for producing; not necessarily in style, but in ideas, target audience and, naturally, the film being stop-motion animation. It also won Anderson his first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature the following year.
So with the release of Isle Of Dogs, Anderson has once again set out a wonderfully stylised and intrictely detailed picture, this time focusing on the banishment of all puppers and doggos from the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki.
With all of the city’s dogs sent to Trash Island, they begin to form packs, hunting for food and water. But when Chief’s (Bryan Cranston) group come across a young pilot, Atari (Koyu Rankin), they set out on a long quest for his lost dog Spots.
The only comparison to really make is Fantastic Mr. Fox. The animation is so intrinsic and unique, even other stop-motion animations don’t compare. Taking Aardman, probably the world’s most favoured and well-known creators of the genre, contrasts just how detailed Anderson’s work is. Mainly using modelling clay, fingerprints and marks are often left on their characters showing a sense of reality and familiarity, rather than a more perfectionist approach.
Anderson looks to remove all sense of creation, looking to showcase a fully functioning world from the beginning. There is a particularly wonderful scene, filmed from a bird’s-eye view, looking down up a man putting together a perfected bento box. The animation is seamless, and its perfection gives it a real sense of pride and elegance.
The story is classic Anderson, with a script to match, and using many of the actors the director relies on for almost all of him films, allows it to un-noticeably transfer into his filmography. As far as flow and general feel are concerned, Isle Of Dogs doesn’t come across as satisfying as some of his better work, but does give a different side to a, now, well known way of making films.
Wes Anderson will forever stand on his own as an incredibly individual director, and his animations only add to that uniqueness. Isle Of Dogs is a brilliant film. Moreover it is a very good children’s film and adds to the incredible age of animation cinema is currently experiencing. It doesn’t showcase social constructs and ideologies as well as many of his best films, but it definitely adds to his ever growing list of hugely enjoyable stylised pictures.