Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On ISLE OF DOGS
ISLE OF DOGS tells the story of ATARI KOBAYASHI, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
The film is directed by Wes Anderson. ISLE OF DOGS opens in theaters March 23, 2018. Let's see what the critics had to say:
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times: "The dogs provide the emotion in this movie. They're surprising, touching and thoroughly delightful company distinguished by witty vocalizations, expressive eccentricities and too many heartbreaking markers of abuse - matted fur, open wounds, painfully knobby legs and that anxious, mournful look of devotion that dogs retain for even the most unworthy humans. (The head of the puppet department is Andy Gent, who worked on "Fantastic Mr. Fox.") The dogs have been abandoned by their masters; damningly, only Atari has set off on a rescue mission. Yet most haven't relinquished their connections to their peopled past. They yearn for a pat on the head."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "That basic boy-and-his-dog story anchors the film even as the writer-director unleashes a whirlwind of subplots and side trips that would topple a lesser movie. He makes the clever decision to turn all barks into spoken English while Japanese humans converse, unsubtitled, in their native tongue - it sounds like chaos but pays off handsomely. There are critics who believe Anderson's attention to detail is obsessive, too fussed over to feel alive. Yet the details are what gives Isle of Dogs its vibrancy and allure. And despite the film's dark subtext, Anderson keeps the action fizzy all the way through."
William Bibbiani, IGN: "Wes Anderson has unusual ideas of what constitutes an adventure, of course. His fight scenes are just cotton ball dust clouds full of limbs punching each other, and sometimes he'll go to all the trouble of setting up a horrifyingly elaborate death machine of violence and then watch in bemused fascination as it simply breaks down. Isle of Dogs is not about pulse-pounding suspense. It's about lovable characters on a dangerous quest, scrambling from one unpredictable scenario to another, as they desperately try care for one another in a world run by corrupt jerks who are trying to tear them apart."
Alissa Wilkinson, VOX: "But Isle of Dogs, though carefully crafted, doesn't have much to say - and that's what's frustrating about the movie. Anderson has always been one of the most stylistically distinctive American directors, but at times it's felt as if his fussiness was a way to wallpaper over a lack of new narrative ideas. Isle of Dogs doesn't suggest an evolution. Still, what Anderson does with Isle of Dogs will delight his fans and maybe win him some new ones. Just don't expect it to say anything too profound: Despite its feint toward commentary, in Isle of Dogs, the concept of xenophobia is just a plot device, not a matter for serious discussion."
Guy Lodge, Variety: "It's when it sticks to the story, oddly, that "Isle of Dogs" is likelier to bark up the wrong tree. Though the film's human drama is plainly intended to be chillier than its more vibrant canine goings-on, any time spent away from the eponymous isle passes rather too slowly. A scattily joined subplot centered on American exchange student Tracy (Greta Gerwig), who persuades her more compliant Japanese peers to RISE up in protest against Kobayashi's dictatorship, skates a little too close to white-savior territory in a film that some will already have placed on thin ice for its ornate cherry-blossom-picking of Japanese culture and iconography. As with Pixar's recent "Coco," however, there's subjective leeway in the argument over appreciation versus appropriation."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: "The work of production designers Adam Stockhausen and Paul Harrod cannot be overpraised, especially in the more elaborate set-pieces like a trash-processing plant where Rex and pals get caught on a hellish ride. A culinary interlude detailing the preparation of a poisoned bento box is transfixing. Just the wealth of visual detail in every frame alone will make the film reward repeat viewings. It was a lovely touch, too, to present news and security camera footage in hand-drawn 2D animation. And the puppets, under the design supervision of Andy Gent, are creations of exceptional rough-edged beauty, from the delicate, doll-like features of human characters like Atari and Tracy to the scruffy individuality of the canine contingent, its core members often shot in striking pan-focus compositions right out of a samurai epic."
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: "But there's a new explosion of creativity, as well as consonants, that seems to have been ignited by drawing from the majesty and oddity of great Japanese movies. One has a sense that this film, like "The Simpsons" over the years, was a receptacle for comic ideas from who knows how many talented collaborators. Mr. Anderson wrote the screenplay, but he shares credit for the story with Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Mr. Nomura. Alexandre Desplat wrote the score, which is supplemented by ominous taiko drumming, and by music that includes a mambo from "Seven Samurai" and Prokofiev's "Midnight Sleighride" played by the trailblazing Sauter-Finegan Orchestra of the 1950s."
Image Courtesy of Isle Of Dogs Official Facebook Page