Isle of Dogs Review

Story posted April 21, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment by Chandler Copenheaver.

The critically acclaimed and talented Wes Anderson has had a career filled with praise and admiration for his quirky, fun and original films. On April 13, the director added the ninth film to his diverse filmography, titled “Isle of Dogs.” The movie tells a story of five dogs living in Japan in the dystopian future, where all dogs have been exiled by cat-lover hierarchies to “Trash Island” due to a fear of the fictional illness, “dog flu.” The dogs take a journey to help a young Japanese boy on the search for his lost dog, Spots, with a driving question throughout the course of the film; “Whatever happened to man’s best friend?”

This is Anderson’s second stop-motion animated films, seen previously in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” With it brings a want for audience members to appreciate and look at a style of animation that is considered to be dying. It also brings a heavy flow of nostalgia and childhood memories for the young adult audience members to a time where animated films were appreciated for their effort and devotion to making children movies, rather than modern films. Anderson himself believes the craft is slowing fading. Like many Wes Anderson films, “Isle of Dogs” features a stellar ensemble, but thanks to the animation, the main focus is on the story and resolution, another reason why it was a brilliant idea to use stop-motion. 

The film holds all of Anderson’s signature trademarks of centered and symmetrical angles, dry humor and a storyline driven by melancholy. But something about “Isle of Dogs” feels different than his previous works. While most of his films generally contain serious issues, like themes of grief, dysfunction, theft, etc., the movie drives itself with a purpose to resolve those feelings and fix the issue at hand. It’s more straightforward, focusing on the need for the dogs to free themselves from the bleak surroundings of the island rather than wallow in it and make it the primary joke of the film. Of course there are violent parts of the film as to be expected with a premise-driven by fear and hate of a species, but Anderson’s filmmaking here is more mature and accepting. The movie is more heartwarming, friendly and universal in terms of the central issue than audience members expected. Rather than ending ambiguously or in discomfort about the matter remaining unsolved, the primary conflict is resolved, the hero saves the day and the film ends peacefully.

“Isle of Dogs” is a visually compelling and beautiful movie, containing even the smallest of details such as fleas crawling through coats and occasional sneezes. Anderson’s care and passion for filmmaking emanate in between the lines of symmetry and dialogue in every film he creates, and “Isle of Dogs” is no different. Anderson wanted to create a poetic homage to the loyal pets, and with the dedication reigning strong, he went above and beyond.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video. To contact her, email