What a strange and captivating film. It has a great style that really brings the world to, well, I’m not sure life is the right word. It brings the world into fantastical realization. The story supposedly takes place in the regular world, but I like to think it takes place in a sort of alternate reality, at least for the city. There’s just something about it that’s really striking and interesting.
The story takes place in Megasaki city, where there is a corrupt government that wants to send all dogs away to Trash Island. They do so through misinformation. There is an oddly authoritorian feel to the city despite nothing really pointing to it. Most people speak Japanese, and for the most part, there are no subtitles. The film cleverly finds ways to let the audience know what’s being said. On Trash Island, where all of the dogs live, they speak English.
The story kick off with young Atari going to Trash Island to find his dog. There, he meets up with a local group of dogs, four of which want to help, and one who doesn’t. The one that doesn’t is a stray. The dogs all have an oddly casual way of discussing things that brings out the oddness of the movie. It works well to differentiate them from people. While the stray dog slowly becomes the more important one, the others are still good for a few odd jokes here and there. It’s great watching the dog develop while traveling through Trash Island looking for Atari’s dog.
Back in Megasaki city, there is growing unrest with the plan to put all dogs on Trash Island. Mostly, it’s by students, but they’re starting to question the way things are. That part feels more like a politcal thriller.
On both Trash Island and Megasaki city, the visuals are wonderful. There’s just a lot to draw in the viewer and hold them there. It’s not standard in any way. The way characters move, the way the scene transitions, the small things, they all fit the style of the world.
Also, while this is an animated movie, it’s rated PG-13 for a good reason. Injuries are portayed rather realistically here. And people say bitch entirely in the original meaning of the word.
Isle of Dogs puts a strange, captivating spin on the story of a boy finding his dog. The visuals are amazing, the characters are fun. Thrown into is a political thriller. Along the way, Atari might even change the mind of a city.