Using the mesmerising technique of stop motion animation, quirky director and animator Wes Anderson has another hit on his hands with the recently released Isle of Dogs.
The mercurial genius behind The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Rushmore has already built up a solid following, and certainly none of the audience at a recent Luna Leederville pre-screening appeared disappointed with the results.
Indeed, they delivered a lively round of applause at the conclusion of this enchanting and imaginative movie.
Set in a dystopian Japan 20 years in the future, Isle of Dogs boasts a star-studded cast of voice actors that includes Edward Norton (Rex), Bob Balaban (King), Bill Murray (Boss), Jeff Goldblum (Duke), Scarlett Johansson (Nutmeg) and Bryan Cranston (Chief).
Isle of Dogs begins with the cat-loving Mayor Kobayashi of Megasaki City enacting a dastardly plan to ban all dogs from the city, thanks to an infestation of dog flu and snout fever.
The movie focuses on a particular group of canine outcasts, who are exiled along with thousands of others, to live on the abandoned garbage dump ‘Trash Island’; located just off the archipelago.
After some early skirmishes with each other, the motley group loosely bands together to try and help the mayor’s adopted son Atari (Koyu Rankin), who has bravely ventured by plane to the island in an attempt to find his exiled pet and best friend Spots.
Unfortunately, Spots was the very first dog to be banished to Trash Island, which means the chances of finding him alive after so long are slim.
As the ragged and unkempt group of alpha dogs assist Atari in his quest, there is also an engaging love interest between Chief, the most alpha of the alpha males, and the beautiful and impressively coiffured Nutmeg.
Of course, in scenes reminiscent of the legendary Disney cartoon Lady and The Tramp, Chief’s awkward advances are at first repulsed by Nutmeg.
However, as the film goes on, she becomes more and more enamoured with his macho persona and seeming inability to feel fear.
As Chief himself says, “I don’t sit. I bite!”
As a former stray, the gruff Chief may have a bit of an inferiority complex, but he easily makes up for it by regularly risking life and limb as the group takes on everything Mayor Kobayashi can throw at them, including a vicious army of artificial robot dogs.
In an important side plot, a scientist appears to discover a cure for the dog flu that has decimated the canine population for so long, as well as a way of managing snout fever.
Unfortunately, the Mayor soon closes down these discoveries, and the movie continues along at a breakneck pace as the gang of alpha dogs throws everything they have at the Mayor and his fiendish followers.
Even for those (like me) who are new to Wes Anderson’s work, this film is likely to engage and enchant you.
Whatever your take on it, it is never dull, and the ending is certainly satisfying, if a touch melodramatic.
Isle of Dogs is showing at Luna Leederville, Luna on SX and Luna Outdoor.
By Mike Peeters
Caption: The Japanese drumming group Taiko On loudly introduce the Isle of Dogs preview showing with a faultless drumming display!