Isle of Dogs Bores with Lousy Writing


Bennett Bogan, Staff Designer

Dogs have been exiled out of Japan, living on a large island being used as a landfill off the coast of Japan. Separated from their masters, starving and sick, the dogs form their own packs to help each other survive. The main character, Atari, and known to the dogs as “pilot boy,” comes to Trash Island in search of his old canine best friend. Isle of Dogs is Wes Anderson’s 10th full-length film and is yet another display of his genius.
The best directors are those who have a consistent and defined style. When you watch Quentin Tarantino, you expect violence, highly stylized characters, and some of the most genuine dialogue Hollywood has to offer. Edgar Wright always makes movies containing smoothly shot action sequences, down to earth characters and self-defeating humor. Wes Anderson movies are defined by his cinematic aesthetic.
Visually, they look like the insides of an art student’s mind. Every shot is symmetrical, wide angle and complementary in colors. The settings are as important as the characters themselves. However, while you can have great writing in a boring setting, you can not have a great setting with boring writing. Unfortunately, this is the major fault of Isle of Dogs.
Beauty, uniqueness and cohesive plot don’t save this movie from dragging, though. Even with a short run time of about an hour and a half, I felt like I had been in the theatre for hours. The exposition itself takes up about 30 minutes of the movie, showing the dogs scrumming around trash island and talking to each other. Following that is the Atari’s search for his dog, but in classic Dora The Explorer fashion, it is simply them going from one place to another to another. By the time conflict is resolved, you are glad that you can finally leave.
In a very risky move, Wes Anderson opts to keep the humans speaking Japanese, and the dogs speaking English. Normally this would make for confusing sequences, but it is in these scenes where Wes Anderson shows that he can truly tell a story through visuals. The stop-motion animation is beautiful in every way, often times making you forget it is stop motion at all.
Overall, Isle of Dogs just displays what Wes Anderson excels at, and doesn’t excel at. His failure to direct emotions and provide a gripping story is excused when paired with his beautiful cinematography and settings. Isle of Dogs is neither an amazing movie nor a terrible movie. It is simply just okay. I wasn’t disappointed coming out of the theatre, but I was not impressed either.