Dog snouts as leading lines adding dynamism to an image. Images courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.
8/10 Isle of Dogs, the latest from iconic #indie filmmaker Wes Anderson, does little to set itself apart from a body of work that’s starting to become a little too homogeneous — and creates unnecessary problems for itself with the way it uses Japanese culture.
In the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki 20 years from now, an outbreak of dog flu — and a government with an ancient preference toward cats — has led to dogs being outlawed, with animal control instructed to transfer all dogs to Trash Island off the cost. The governor’s dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber) was the first to be given up. Months later, the governor’s ward, Atari Kobyashi (Koyu Rankin) takes a makeshift plane to the island to recover his beloved guardian. A pack of strays (Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum), long-since gone feral, help him navigate the desolate island.
Wes Anderson movies are kind of past the point of talking about them. They’ve been accurately described as their own genre several times. His shots, stories, and design tendencies are not only distinctive, but so similar across his career that it’s tough to distinguish his films from each other — that style and story is delightful, of course, but that almost goes without saying at this point.