Isle of Dogs: Film Review

I’m pretty late to the Wes Anderson fan club, only joining it after The Grand Budapest Hotel (and then watching his older work), so I was fairly excited about his stop-motion animation Isle of Dogs, and I must admit, I liked it but I wasn’t blown away by it.

Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray voice a group of dogs who have been shipped off to Trash Island with all other dogs in Megasaki City by Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) after the outbreak of dog flu. One day Kobayashi’s ward Atari (Koyu Rankin) flies a prop plane over to Trash Island to look for his dog named Spots (Liev Schreiber) and the pack help him on his mission.

The film looks gorgeous and production/character design and music are fantastic, and the voice actors (many of them Anderson regulars) are perfectly cast, but the movie has problems with pacing. It was quick, exciting and had a real sense of humour in the beginning but it lost that halfway through. It was still nice and entertaining enough but it really slowed at the midpoint and started to feel long. It would have benefitted from chopping a couple of characters or minor subplots.

Once the story delves into the conspiracy theory that Kobayashi is ignoring the cure to dog flu to keep them all on Trash Island, it becomes a bit complicated, especially as the Japanese speak Japanese without any form of translation often and when Frances McDormand‘s interpreter character does appear, she rattles through a giant dump of exposition at a rate of knots which you have to process quickly. A couple of times I wasn’t sure if I was following everything.

The voice cast is amazing though and you’ll be playing ‘I recognise that voice, who is that?’ a lot. Other big names include Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg, Greta Gerwig as American pro-dog campaigner Tracy, F Murray Abraham as old dog Jupiter, and Courtney B. Vance as the narrator.

As a lover of dogs, these incredible actors and Anderson’s sense of humour, I expected to love Isle of the Dogs more, but it just good, fine, nice, lovely, etc etc. Entertaining enough but nothing I want to rave about.

In cinemas Friday 30th March


  1. […] Click on the thumbnails to enlarge, and read my review of the film here. […]


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