Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation—following 2009’s unassailably wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox—is full of delectable visual treats. This time, the director’s grade-school diorama aesthetic floods your ocular circuits with a retro-futuristic version of Japan, where all the dogs of Megasaki City have been exiled to Trash Island following an outbreak of snout fever. Isle of Dogs is leaps and bounds more advanced than Fantastic Mr. Fox—the deliberate herky-jerkiness of that film has vanished, replaced by a refined style of stop-motion that’s breathtaking in its elegance, even as it depicts Trash Island’s mountains of maggoty, flea-ridden refuse. But Anderson’s depiction of Japanese humans in Isle of Dogs leaves something to be desired. In what initially seems like a clever tactic, the dogs all speak English while humans communicate in un-translated Japanese. While this pulls us inside the dogs’ world, it flattens the depiction of the Japanese characters. Anderson—and the audience—remain Western outsiders looking in. But all in all, Isle of Dogs is worth recommending. by Ned Lannamann
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Wes Anderson
Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson