Movie Review: ISLE OF DOGS - About Politics In The Style Of Wes Anderson

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Movie Review: ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:, Edition by Amber255 for 

When I came across this movie in IMDb list of 50 best movies of 2018, the first thought was I will refuse to watch it. The thing is that I am not very fond of animation films. But before the permanent decision, I searched for ratings. And it assured me to spend some time to see is it so really good as ratings say? I also got intrigued because its director is the famous film genius, Wes Anderson. Some critics call the ISLE OF DOGS the most important work of this year's animation world is. So, how I could refuse to watch it? No ways. 

For film fanatics, director Wes Anderson is already well-known. The creator of the cinema world is well known for films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums or Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Isle of Dogs is a wonderous, inventive and extremely enjoyable film. Beautiful stop-motion animation, wonderful characters and strong themes make it a must-see.


Own island comes at a high price to dogs, not for beautiful eyes or fluffy wool. The pigs got to the Bahamas island of Big Major Cay either as a future lunch for sailors, or as victims of a shipwreck, or as a tourist lure. Rabbits found themselves in Okunoshima in Japan, now known as Island of Rabbits, under even worse circumstances: during the Second World War, a chemical weapons production was opened there, and the rabbits were supposedly brought in as experimental animals. Subsequently, the production was closed, the remaining rabbits were released on free grazing - now they, like the Bahamian pigs, the proud owners of their own island and tourist attraction.

But worst of all is for the heroes of the animated film ISLE OF DOGS - sick, thrown on the island-trash and still suffering in every way from people.  But let's watch it. 

ISLE OF DOGS, Official Trailer - Photo credit: 

The Short Story Of The Movie

By order of the mayor, all the dogs of the Megasaki city in Japan, are deported to live in a harsh Trush island. Twelve-year-old Atari(Koyu Rankin) alone kidnaps a propeller plane and, after crossing the river, on the island looks for his guard dog. The little boy is determined to defend the dogs left for the will of the fate, to resist the law of the government, and to find his beloved and loyal four-legged friend, guard Spot.

When he landed down on the island, he meets a gang of dogs. The boy, accompanied by loyal other four-legged friends, goes on a journey of adventure to rescue dogs taken to the island, according to the government, due to a disastrous epidemic. It will be an epic journey whose outcome will determine the fate of the entire prefecture. 

It's not just about adventures, relationships or cute puppies, but about finding truth and justice.


50 best movies of 2018 - ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:

The Content Of The Movie 

The story directed by Wes Andersen has attracted great interest and appreciation. The ISLE OF DOGS has become the first animated film to open the international Berlin Film Festival, which runs for 68 years.

It's a fantasy comedy animation. It is hard to confuse the work of director Wes Anderson's with the works of other authors. It is a creator whose stories are different in style. It's a genius who has his own identity and specifics of created work.

The basis of the ISLE OF DOGS' story is made up of elements of puppets animation technique. These are handmade items that require a lot of time, effort, resources, and diligence. Finding such world-class puppy animation creators are becoming more and more difficult as this work has been forgotten for a long time, but is now reborn. 

The ISLE OF DOGS  creative team had to put much efforts to create heroic and expressive characters' images. For one second of the creation of this animated film, creators had to make twelve movements or each shot for creating characters and movements.


A fantasy comedy animation: ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:

There's no need to expect quick action, storyline twists here, but if you've seen previous Anderson movies and you are fascinated, it's worth seeing another masterpiece.

Indeed, what this director does, everything seems to be somewhat unusual, non-standard in the director's logic system, and that is his strongest side. It is somewhat unusual for the creator to choose the context of the oriental theme, but essentially no difference, as it is just a form of narration, and problems are being explored the same in Argentina, the US, and anywhere else.

While dogs run around the dog island and experience a variety of adventures, helping the little boy to get back his beloved friend, the viewer does not distinguish the dog as an animal. One of the strongest illusions is that the story makes you feel like a part of the dogs' community, a part of the system-community of human civilization, which is a little different from the people themselves. Identified values of dogs and human beings, in essence, expose the sensitive relationship of human and animal identity as a unified whole of the guarding and mutually supportive life.

True, there were such strange reflections on the film, how a high government tracking infrastructure can be integrated into a landfill, how did the dogs get across the ocean on the built rafts with illuminated bulbs. Certain details of the film make a shorter viewer shrug and wonder.


Puppets animation ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:

Resistance And The Idea Of Justice

You do not have to expect a beautiful story of liberation from the movie. This film requires a deeper understanding.

The ISLE OF DOGS shows the collective spirit and determination to resist injustice, to fight for freedom and equality.

Cinema enthusiasts can see the corrupt and autocratic Japanese political system.

The characters of the film, speaking in the voice of the people, come up against the people who control all power in their hands. Movie history shows that it is not only the achievement of the goal that is important but the struggle itself. 


A fantasy comedy animation: ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit: 

The director leaves the place for the imagination of the spectator. For example, most of the boy's Atari dialogues are not translated from Japanese, so both the dog's characters and the viewer who does not know Japanese must try to understand what the guy is trying to say. You have to identify with four-legged dogs, not a boy. Throughout the dog world, it is revealed the humanity's need to resist inequality and injustice.

The deportation of the best friend dog is a sort of exclusion and another scurvy attempt by mankind to decouple itself from the world of nature and wildlife through cruelty and the greed of power.

Segregation, Corruption, Inequality - Wes Anderson Parabola directed against these evils, which can be called a choral film (a gang of dogs as one body).

Walking on four legs turns into a kind of metaphor of the sight angle (heroes look from the bottom to the world, thus visually embodying the idea of humiliation). Dogs, being four-legged, are not able to occupy a dominant position. Social tops are not available to them. But here are the rules of Wes Anderson's game - it is important not to dominate but to resist.


Stop-motion animation ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:

The Personages Of The Movie 

In history, dogs and people speak different languages: dogs - English, most characters are Japanese. This explains their inability to make oneself understood and the director's unwillingness to turn a movie in Japan into English. Sometimes the Japanese language is translated by translators or young exchange students who, together with the local population, are trying to save the dogs and stop the state's propaganda.

The one thing about our dogs is they live on a garbage dump. That helps to undermine the cuteness. And there is a lot of anger and ferocity. Also there’s a lot of suffering among these dogs. They even meet a group of dogs that have been in a testing laboratory and so on. There’s some darkness in it, I guess, that maybe balances against the basic appeal of dogs. They do have a lot of heart. - Wes Anderson


A light, intelligent, humorous film creates interesting characters that are not banal as often as usual in such films. Dogs, who usually listen to the instructions of each of their hosts, here disagree to obey, and if they give up, that is not because they consider people as their masters, but because they want it themselves.

Although the characters speak with the voices of the people, they perceive themselves as dogs: they are living between trash, biting, walking on four legs.


Stop-motion animation - ISLE OF DOGS - Photo credit:

One of the most successful aspects of the film is a convincing and motivated balance between people and animals. In any other film, where people and animals would work, the viewer would be involuntarily identified with the people. On the ISLE OF DOGS, the only person with whom it would be possible to identify is a small boy named Atari, coming to the island to look for his loyal dog named Spots.

However, the boy speaks Japanese, and his language is not translated. In this way, the viewer takes the position of the confused dogs who are trying to understand what Atari is trying to say. The boy becomes a kind of guide which dogs follow by intuitive trust, but there is no conversation at the verbal level. The viewer understands dogs in this respect and identifies with them, not with the boy.


ISLE OF DOGS review - Photo credit:

The Technical Side Of The Movie

From a photographic point of view, perhaps one of the best 2018 films is exactly W.Anderson's puppets animation ISLE OF DOGS. Beautiful, subtle, instructive, and as always of this director - ideal by (central) composition's scenes. An interesting observation: in his films, children behave like adults, and adults - like children.

Wes Anderson, like in all his films, immerses the audience in the director's world they already know, in which every detail is part of his imagination. With the help of the stop-motion animation technique, the dogs are considered to be carriers of all diseases for which there is no place in the cat world.

We see impressive Japanese imagery, the unusual culture of the country, and the rare technique of puppets animation. If you enjoy slower action, aesthetics, computer graphics, you will certainly be fascinated by filmThe main technique used is puppy animation. Such a creative element in the film industry is used and found less and less often. Using puppets and computer animation makes the process of making the film even more complicated and longer.

This film draws the eyes not only in its own style, but also in colorful pastel colors, interiors, but even more colorful characters. The film is dominated by strict symmetry and linear constructions. 

ISLE OF DOGS, Behind The Scenes - Video credit:

The Collective Work Of The Actors

The cast of the dubbing heroes of this puppets animation is headed by Brian Cranston, Edward Norton, and young actor Koyu Rankin, for whom the ISLE OF DOGS is a debut in a large full-length movie.

Among the actors who recorded this movie, all the well-known cinema stars like Greta GerwinScarlett Johansson, Jeff GoldblumBill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Yoko Ono, Francis McDormandAkira Takayamaand many more who gave their voices to various characters of Wes Anderson’s animation already thundered on various film festivals. 

There is nothing more to tell about actors as they do not play in this film, just give their voices. 


Actors of ISLE OF DOGS  - Photo credit:

On A Final Note

If this film taught something, it is definitely not to throw the puppy to the street. On the contrary - to protect and cherish his life. Although I would like someone to create an animated film about cows, pigs being slaughtered and show children the level of awareness that a dog or a pig is essentially the same form of life that has feelings and a specific communication system. So far it is very easy to identify with the best friend dog, because most people perceive to be inedible, not including North Korea and some Chinese people.

In any case, such films give the best experience through emotional intelligence that any life is expensive.

The ISLE OF DOGS should not only appeal to people who have dogs or who love them, but also to those who like different screening and distinctive graphics. Sometimes a sentimental but charming and funny movie turns into fun for the family.

Animated satire ISLE OF DOGS is a political parable about the spirit of the collective, the power of unity, and the struggle for the freedom and equality of the enslaved.


ISLE OF DOGS review - Photo credit: 

The inventive, playful, witty ISLE OF DOGS is an attempt to metaphorically expose the political terror of today's world. Through the images of the vagabond and oppressed dogs is revealed humanity's need not to give in to evil. To resist oppressors is the duty of every thoughtful and empathic person. The struggle between cynicism and justice, lies and progressive ideas at various film levels will not leave the audience indifferent.

A feast for the eyes and the soul in equal measure, Isle of Dogs is certain to elicit new joys on each repeated viewing.


My rating: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90/100
Metacritic: 82/100
Critics average: 88/100
IMDb: 7.9/10 




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