Fictional Megasaki: 20 years into the future a mass flu outbreak is blamed on the city's dogs by their iron-fisted mayor Kobayshi (Konichi Noumura -voice). The first dog to be subject to the solution of exile to Trash Island is Spots (Liev Schreiber -voice) the protector dog of Mayor Kobayshi's regent 12-Year-Old Atari (Koyu Rankin - Voice). the rest of the cities pollution falls in line resulting in all of the resident's pets ending up on the island. On the island a short while later we meet a pack of dogs voiced by Wes Anderson stalwarts. Ed Norton voices King the leader of the pack. Bill Murray is Boss a former baseball team mascot, and Bob Balaban supplies the voice for King a former dog food pitch hound back in the city. Jeff Goldblum joins the pack as Duke the gossip with Bryan Cranston as Chief hanging at an arm's length distance a stray with a pension for fighting and biting.
The meat of the story hits when the resourceful Atari crash lands on the island in search of his beloved Spot. He teams up with the pack in an attempt to find his loyal friend. The crew trecks across the island meeting a series of interesting characters on their journey. Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson) a former show dog that takes a shining to the rough-edged Chief. They visit the seer dogs Jupiter (F.Murray Abraham) and Oracle (Tilda Swinton) the latter who interprets the news on television for their guidance. A group of students in the city lead by exchange student Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) oppose the mayor's plan wanting their dogs back. Science candidate (Akira Ito) Watanabe finds a cure for the flu that is repressed by the Mayor who wants to see cats reign supreme.
Wes Anderson creates a wonderful stop animation world. His fastidious attention to detail is fully on display mainly around displaying Japanese tradition. The film includes a mesmerizing sushi preparing sequence that's pure Anderson. Anderson shares writing credits with regular Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola and Nourma who voices the Mayor. The quartet weave a tale that is heavy on the indiosyncracies of Japanese culture giving a grand stage for Chief to grow and evolve balanced by Atari's single-minded quest to find his lost dog.
Isle of Dogs is a welcome addition to Wes Anderson's film catalog. His ensemble cast of four-legged canines play off each other well. Mayor Kobayshi is an effective villain that ends up opposed to his regent nephew Atari. The action takes place in a marvelously constructed world backed by an off-beat Alexandre Desplat score making it a film I can recommend.
*** 1/2 Out of 4.
Isle of Dogs | Wes Anderson | USA /Germany | 2018 | 101 Minutes.
Tags, Dogs, Japan, Student Newspaper, Cats, Vaccine, Snout Flu, Train Crash, Orphan, Sushi