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Isle Of Dogs  : A Wag & A Thump Of Approval
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Friday, July 6, 2018
Adventure
Wes Anderson
Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel

What a wonderful way to bring humanity into dystopia.

 

Writer-director Wes Anderson establishes without debate that the lower cost of stop-motion animation versus the more sophisticated CGI (computer-generated imagery) does not in any way indicate a lowering in quality.

 

Jump straightaway to Megasaki City in Japan a few years from now where Mayor Kobayashi who comes from a family of canine-haters has banished all dogs to a garbage island.The fear of Snout Fever, Dog Flu and other doggie diseases is played upon to support the official decree. And the Mayor takes the first step by deporting his family dog Spots to the blighted island.

 

Prof Watanabe and his team of scientists are the dissenting voices because they’ve been working on a serum that’ll make all dogs healthy again. But the Mayor is a dictator who crushes protest in ways we’re all too familiar with.

 

On the isle of dogs lands Atari, the 12-year-old nephew of the Mayor who’s come in search of his bodyguard dog Spots.

 

By now, the dogs have formed their own groups. There’s a Westside Story kind of stand-off between two packs that fight over a food packet. The trained household pets who’re used to obeying orders can’t get Chief, a proud stray to fall in line. Cannibal dogs that are feared and shunned have their own tale of how they’ve been tainted. And there’s Nutmeg, the pretty show dog that has the male dogs perking up with interest.

 

By replacing human characters with man’s best friend, Wes Anderson makes an instant connect. The cuteness, the sympathy, the humour, all of it combines to make one of the most watchable slow-motion animated films of recent times.  Alexander Desplat’s music score helps multiply the delightful blending of sight and sound.

 

Anderson makes sharp, political jabs in the guise of a film that’ll make dog and animals lovers wilt at its sweetness. He writes in all the evils of thuggish dictatorship and all the energy of a good fight back by Atari and the dogs. Oh, and Chief who has a new role in life, ultimatelygets his bitch as Nutmeg, like many girls, shows a flair for dogs that aren’t too tame.

 

There’s wit sprinkled in the dialogues, even in the opening sub-titles and voice-overs. Barks are translated into English, we’re assured, and terms like ‘underdog dog’ or ‘brother from another litter’ make it breezy, taking away the heavy weariness of dystopia and wicked dictators.

 

If there is something you could poke fun at it is that Anderson too trots out the ‘Americans to the rescue’ anthem. An exchange student from Cincinnati is the one who bands the scientists and dissenters together to usher fairplay into this part of Japan.

 

The voice-overs by Brian Cranston for Chief, Scarlett Johansson for Nutmeg and LievShreiber for Spots make you want to pat them on the head and take them home.

 

Verdict: For an animation film that’ll inspire kindness for animals in the young and will dart a few lessons at adults, Isle Of Dogs gets a tail wag and a 4* rating.

 

Direction: 4*
Screenplay: 4*

Story: 4*
Dialogues: 4*

Music: 4*

 

Reviewed by

Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

 

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