If there is a director who knows how to make a great animated movie, it's Wes Anderson. Although he previously made only one animated movie almost ten years ago which was "Fantastic Mr. Fox", I remember it being so funny, clever and very well animated that I wanted to see more from him. Now we have another one called "Isle of Dogs" and I'll just get this out of the way right now. This is a great movie. Everything that was so great about "Fantastic Mr. Fox" has been stepped up big time in this movie with a very clever and charming story, brilliant and flowing stop motion animation and characters that are made memorable due to their brilliant voice over work from a wide cast of Oscar-nominated actors. Before we get into why you should go out of your way to see this movie, here's my brief plot synopsis.
In the country of Japan not too far in the future, dog flu has begun to spread throughout the community. Wanting to protect the citizens of Megasaki City, the corrupt Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) issues an order to banish all canines onto a trash island away from the country with the first dog to be banished being his nephew's guard dog Spots (Liev Schreiber). In a matter of six months, the young nephew named Atari (Koyu Rankin) decides to rescue his dog by stealing an airplane and crashes on the island. There he meets five dogs, four of whom use to belong to masters and one who is a stray. While the four named Rex (Edward Norton), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum) and King (Bob Balaban) are willing to help, the stray named Chief (Bryan Cranston) is initially reluctant due to his prejudice against humans. The six then set off on a journey to find the lost dog traveling through many abandoned areas along the way. Back on the mainland, an American exchange student named Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) has begun to suspect that a conspiracy is ongoing proceeds to investigate while coming across details involving a group of scientists (Kunichi Nomura and Yoko Ono). I could list more details like say what other fantastic actors are in this movie, but I dare not spoil anything.
Throughout my viewing of the movie, I was marveled by the immersive work that Anderson and his team put in this film. The story created by him, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura was very original and clever. Similar to "Fantastic Mr. Fox", the screenplay written by Anderson was top notch quality with the dialogue being very smart and clever. Though unlike the former, this film doesn't hold back on the cussing as the characters actually fully on say the words without having it being replaced with the word "cuss". As for the animation, it's also fantastic. The movement of the characters, as well as the human designs, have really been improved from "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and I really have got to appreciate the style that Anderson puts into the visuals. He claims to have been inspired by the work of Akira Kurosawa and the holiday Rankin-Bass specials (both of which were made in Japan) for this film and it clearly shows though it isn't without his typical trademarks like his symmetry framing and quirky dialogue. As for the characters, I really liked how captivating they are. You can tell that the actors in this film were allowed to be themselves and were able to put what makes them charming in real life into their performances. Bryan Cranston, in particular, was a highlight. He was able to sell the character of Chief starting off as very unlikeable and then develop into a likable character by the end of the movie which is something that I love seeing movies do. Even the score by recent Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat was once again fantastic and helped impact the story as great scores do. I don't think I have any complaints about this movie. It's that good.
If you love movies, go support "Isle of Dogs". This is something that people who love movies should see with it's intruding story, beautiful animation and captivating characters. This is a film that was well worth the wait. I'm glad I saw it, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing it in the near future.
P.S. Also, I really got to thank a few of my friends for convincing their manager at the movie theater they showed the film in for screening it there. Had they not, I would have been forced to see it an hour away from where I live.