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Blu-ray Review: Isle of Dogs

I don’t know why, but whenever there is a new Wes Anderson movie out it always takes me a while to see it. The thing is, I really like films by Wes Anderson, and I love a few of them, but I don’t think I have ever seen one during its cinema release.

It is just one of those quirks of circumstances that sometimes arise that eventually becomes almost something more than coincidence.

The only Anderson film I recall not wanting to see was Fantastic Mr. Fox. That was his first stop-motion animated movie. There was something about the trailer that put me off the film. When I finally watched it a couple of years later I thought it was brilliant and considered myself a fool for waiting all that time.

That brings us to Isle of Dogs. This time, knowing my eventual response to Fantastic Mr. Fox, I said to myself, “this time see this one in the cinema!”

I did not see it at the cinema. I cannot recall what the cause was. Maybe there was a storm or a gunfight with a group of pirates while we were filming a nature documentary.

Luckily enough I got sent the Blu-ray to review so did not have to wait a few years to see it.

This time I did not enjoy it quite as much as I hoped I would. It seemed almost a bit too much Wes Anderson in its style and storytelling techniques…almost like a parody of a Wes Anderson film.

Basically, the film tells the story of a young boy, called Atari, in Japan trying to find his lost dog. Many dogs have been sent to Trash Island due to a strain of the influenza virus that has spread throughout the canine population. Atari is helped by a group of dogs. The voice cast features Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frank Wood, Kunichi Nomura and Yoko Ono.

The film looks incredible and showcases Anderson’s love of dogs and Japan. The character models and set design is absolutely incredible with huge amounts of detail calling out for repeat viewings to soak it all in.

As you can see the voice cast is incredible and they do great things with the characters they have and there are some great moments of joy, laughter and peril. There are also some brilliant homages to classic Japanese cinema. Yet those moments of joy and laughter are pretty spread out throughout the film and at times the sense of fun is missing. I suppose that works well for the story it was telling, but gave rise to that Wes Anderson parody type feeling I mentioned. Watching it I felt that it was somebody who had studied all of his films and had tried to copy him but missed out that true spark of quirkiness and whimsy that I feel when watching his other films.

It could be just me, but my mind wandered in a couple of places during the film…I didn’t feel as absorbed in the goings on which was a shame.

Don’t get me wrong. It was still worth watching but just didn’t sit with me as well as I had hoped. Maybe when I watch it again it will grow on me and the fact it is so visually enticing means it will be played again over the next week or two.

Blu-ray™ Special Features:

  • Featurettes
  • Animators
  • Isle of Dogs Cast Interviews
  • Puppets
  • An Ode to Dogs
  • Magasaki City and Trash Island
  • Weather and Elements
  • Image Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
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