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Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs: a movie for dog lovers set in a dystopian Japan

Kai Umeda, Nostalgic Reviewer

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The team that brought you Fantastic Mr. Fox now brings you Isle of Dogs.  This is a movie that critics have gone nuts for. They said it was funny, they said it was original, they said it was heartfelt.  Thankfully, director Wes Anderson’s work paid off.

In a dystopian Japan all the dogs in the city of Megasaki have  been exiled because of serious diseases to an island full of trash.  Five dogs in particular played by Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, and Bryan Cranston form a pack of dominant dogs. While they don’t like their lives on the island, they just learn to accept their situation because they have no choice. However, they  still try to have some hope.  Things get interesting when a boy named Atari flies to the island in search of his emotional support dog, Spots, and meets the pack.  Along the way they explore the island. While they’re doing that, a group of kids lead a protest against the banishment,  there’s  a murder mystery involving a famous scientist, and they find out that the government is building mysterious contraptions involving the dogs.

Is there a downside to this movie?  Yes, there is. Some people said that Anderson is guilty of  cultural misappropriation since  Anderson is white and most of the humans speak Japanese while all the dogs speak English.  There are a few graphic scenes that might offend some sensitive people. In the beginning we see the main characters fight with another pack over scraps of food.  Near the end one of the dogs bites another dog’s ear off.

What stands out in the film is the scenery and the pacing. Similar to How to Train Your Dragon, the pacing sort of engulfs you and you see what everybody goes through in the movie: dealing with loss, the turmoil with having to love and hate family, and all sorts of other genuine emotions both good and bad. You also feel like you’re with the characters on their journey.   The island they’re on is a maze of death traps, wonders, and weird landmasses. For what it is, I think it’s a movie that a lot of people should see and experience  for themselves.

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Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs: a movie for dog lovers set in a dystopian Japan