Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Isle of Dogs

Writer/director Wes Anderson's return to stop-motion may not measure up to Fantastic Mr. Fox, but the quirky tale of an injured boy searching a quarantined island for his lost dog hits most of the right notes. When the dog population becomes infested with Dog Flu, all the dog's in Japan are quarantined to an island of trash where the nephew (Koyu Rankin) of the mayor crash lands in search of his loyal dog.

The story is presented mostly from the point-of-view of the dogs (voiced by Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray), who are unable to communicate with the the boy but instinctively set-out to help find his lost dog. Even the reluctant stray (voiced by Cranston) discovers why young boys are a dog's best friend.

The plot gets a bit over-complicated by a conspiracy within the Japanese government, drones and robotic hunting dogs sent to bring back the boy, an exchange student (Greta Gerwig) at a school newspaper's search for the truth, and a romantic subplot between a couple of the dogs.

Given the excess story points, the plot does bog down from time to time, but the stop-motion is gorgeous to look at, and thankfully none of the lulls last long enough to derail the primary story of a boy and his dog. The sequences of the dogs' inner democracy is also highly entertaining as they work together to get the job done. There are some odd plot points that seem only to exist to help streamline the story when needed, such as the technology that allows young Atari to talk to the dogs when detailed information needs to be passed between the boy and his dogs or how events play out to allow a group of kids and dogs overthrow the Japanese government.

Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, extras include a collection of short promotional featurettes, the movie's trailer, and photo gallery.

[20th Century Fox, Blu-ray $19.99 / DVD $14.99]

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