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I had very high expectations going into Isle of Dogs, being a great admirer of Wes Anderson's work, and especially off the fumes of his previous film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). If you look at Wes' filmography, you will notice that each of his films progressively become more focused, detailed, and "Wes Anderson-ey". It feels as if his films have been building to a culmination of sorts, which can be represented with Isle of Dogs.
The story revolves around a young boy, Atari, who is seeking his lost dog with help from a pack of dogs on Trash Island, right outside of Megasaki City (word-play on Nagasaki), a fictional future city of Japan that is exiling dogs due to a "canine flu" outbreak.
From a filmmaking viewpoint, Isle of Dogs has it all in spades, and more. The characters are well rounded and relatable, even though the majority of them are dogs. The presentation of the story is very fresh and unique, and the humor is always smoothly intertwined with the narrative and visuals. With a runtime of an hour and 40 minutes, it flies by, always keeping your attention and further engaging you. The stop-motion animation is very well done, and the way it is contrasted with beautiful Japanese imagery is stunning. The soundtrack is also excellent, and aids in telling the story. There are many nods towards Japanese cinema, chiefly Akira Kurosawa's films, which you can tell that Wes has a passion for. The voice cast is star-studded and wonderful as always. There are plenty of twists and surprises, and the film leaves the viewers with some important messages/themes to ponder over. It is best to go into the movie knowing as little about the story as possible, and let it take you on its journey.
This film will greatly reward repeat viewings. The attention to detail in every frame is incredible, and there is always so much on the screen to absorb and process, in the best way possible. I believe that Wes Anderson has the most distinct and easily discernible style of any filmmaker to ever live, and this quality alone is something to be praised very highly.
If you love dogs, Japanese cinema/culture, stop-motion, and animation in general, then you will love this film all the more so. Isle of Dogs, shows Wes at his full unfiltered creative power, stretching his capabilities, and giving us something truly remarkable.