Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ is all bark and bite.

Wes Andersons Isle of Dogs is all bark and bite.

Jaxon Parker, Staff Writer

Visionary filmmaker Wes Anderson returns to theaters with another remarkable film for audiences to enjoy with ‘Isle of Dogs.’ Taking place in the distant future of the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, ‘Isle of Dogs’ follows the story of a 12 year old boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) who runs away from home and steals a jet to find his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) after the totalitarian mayor of Megasaki, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), enacts an executive order to deport all dogs in Megasaki to Trash Island.

The story of Atari and his indestructible bond with his dog is supported by both human and canine characters voiced by an all star cast. As Atari makes his way through Trash Island looking for his dog, he runs into a pack of dogs deported by Mayor Kobayashi, including Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), Boss (Bill Murray), King (Bob Balaban) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum). Each actor delivers an incredible performance with their characters, with each dog having its own unique personality and a pack held together by the actors’ endearing chemistry.

Along Atari’s journey with the pack of dogs, they run into other characters such as Oracle (Tilda Swinton) who claims to have the ability to envision the future (but actually just understands television broadcasts), and Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) who is the leader of a student group in Megasaki City protesting Mayor Kobayashi’s administration. Each character is well-voiced and written with dynamic personalities that helps sustain the film’s humorous charm and emotional complexities.

Like Wes Anderson’s other modern classics, ‘Isle of Dogs’ is silly, yet charming and deeply emotional, delving into dark topics of loneliness and death. Characters are faced with the immense suffering of separation between loved ones and persecution under a tyrannical government. Suspense and tension is built as Atari and the pack travel across the hazardous Trash Island and Megasaki City to be reunited with their loved ones. However, these harsh topics don’t prevent the movie from being witty and fun to watch. The dark subject matter blends well with the film’s upbeat tone, showcasing the film’s mature and touching understanding of love and connection to others.

The meaningful and emotional depths of the film are enhanced by making politically charged stances in regard to the current political landscape. As the emotionally dynamic and humorous characters journey together, the film smartly highlights the dangers of propaganda, reactionary policies such as discriminatory deportation and woeful ignorance to science and reason. These complex topics aren’t preached to the audience, but are instead intelligently written in with care for the audiences to think over and discuss after the plot.

Along with the wonderfully written characters and complex topics in ‘Isle of Dogs’ is Anderson’s masterful and quirky directing paired with his creative cinematography. His trademark symmetrical camera shots makes every scene of Megasaki City and the wasteland of Trash Island look gorgeous and vibrant. The beauty of ‘Isle of Dogs’ is amplified by its intricate animation, turning Trash Island into a portrait of precise detail and color where the audience can point out every single object.

The beautiful cinematography, animation and directing alone are enough for ‘Isle of Dogs’ to be considered a worthy installment in Wes Anderson’s film discography, but the film becomes a true stand out with its compelling, humorous, and dynamic characters along with its emotional depth. In a market saturated with formulaic and dull action films, the wide release of ‘Isle of Dogs’ is a great reason to return to the theater.