Wes Anderson took his fascination for obsessively detailed hermetic worlds, meticulous visual compositions, oddball characters and idiosyncratic storytelling quirks to a heightened level in 2009 with his delightful stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Returning to the form, the director delivers an even wilder, more distinctive experience with Isle of Dogs, the thoroughly captivating tale of a 12-year-old Japanese boy’s quest to rescue his beloved pet, and indeed an entire outcast canine population, from the genocidal scheme of a crooked mayoral regime. The Fox Searchlight March release has cult potential stamped all over it.
The setting is the fictional Japanese Megasaki City, 20 years in the future, and Anderson acknowledges one of his key influences as the urban crime and corruption thrillers of Akira Kurosawa, in particular the early 1960s features The Bad Sleep Well and High and Low. Nods to Kurosawa are present throughout, notably in the decision to make Mayor Kobayashi (voiced by co-story writer Kunichi Nomura) a dead-ringer for the Seven Samurai director’s longtime screen muse Toshiro Mifune, his glowering countenance staring out from billboards and news broadcasts. There are also suggestions of the formal elegance of Yasujiro Ozu, the accelerating peril of vintage Japanese monster movies and the frenetic dust-ups of anime.
But the film’s sophisticated cine-literacy is more of an added bonus for aficionados than an essential part of the enjoyment of this twisty original tale — scripted by Anderson from a story he developed with Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Nomura. Despite the specificity of its setting, Isle of Dogs is very much a part of Anderson’s eccentric universe; its vibrantly inventive visuals and the refusal of its resourceful heroes to bend to an oppressive authority in many ways recall The Grand Budapest Hotel. In fact, in its rebellious stand against corrupt leaders manipulating the truth in order to spread fear and persecute minorities, the movie has a political undercurrent that feels quite timely.
Isle of Dogs Movie Review Berlin 2018 a boy and his faithful pet out to stop a canine genocide,