Never had I thought I would be a dog person until Wes Anderson showed me why I needed to be. “Isle of Dogs,” the film everybody had been awaiting for, combines cross-cultural and cross-species elements to make a hit.
The movie takes place in a future dystopian Japan, where mayor Kobayashi has concluded that the overpopulation of dogs in the city and the newfound “Dog Flu” was reason to rule for the immediate deportation of all dogs to Trash Island. Kobayashi’s distant nephew and main protagonist, 12-year-old Atari, hijacks a small jet and ventures out to Trash Island to find his lost dog six months after the mass deportation.
After crashing on the island, Atari meets a pack of forgotten dogs who promise to help him find his “Spots,” which incites a journey throughout the barren, landfilled island. Meanwhile, a major anti-dog conspiracy is happening back where Mayor Kobayashi and his adviser must be up to something that foreign exchange student Tracy just can’t let settle.
After investigating, exposing, exploring and nearly dying multiple times, characters in the movie all play a collective part in an unexpected ending.
One thing I liked a lot about this movie is the way Anderson’s team captured a feeling of Japan. During some parts of the movie, the dialogue was only Japanese without any subtitles. The movie itself was still entirely comprehensive, but it was mysterious being an outsider. It made the movie a bit more realistic, since I don’t speak Japanese.
Oh, the brutality —Anderson did not shy away from horridly cringy moments, even in his cute movie about dogs. For most of the film, as viewers will early see, the protagonist is walking around with a piece of metal stuck in the side of his head. Dog fights were no exception to the brutality either — with the style of animation, it was very harshly detailed.
My few criticisms fall under a small umbrella of people who would be bothered by things like this, such as creating a manic pixie dream girl out of a dog (Nutmeg) that serves no real purpose to the plot other than to be a heteronormative element of mystery.