Isle of Dogs (2018): The Collision of PG-13 Animation and Wes Anderson

Before we dive into the review for “Isle of Dogs,” let me just take a second to remind that this movie involves a search for a lost dog. When it comes to owning a dog, I’m well aware that the owner must take massive responsibility over it to avoid negative consequences.

That is unless, you know, you own Zuul from “Ghostbusters,” in which case, you’re in for the exact opposite of a treat, and face every negative consequence in the book.

You might also say that having a dog is a lot like having a kid. You have to take care of it, you have to spend money on it, and sometimes you have to keep a good eye on it. One married couple who will be taking on the responsibility of a kid one day will be a dynamic duo by the name of Genevieve and Paul. While they’re not technically responsible for a kid just yet, they are having one soon. The journey to get to where they are in terms of having a kid brought lots of hardships, as explained, in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a relatively new YouTube channel and series created by Genevieve and Paul, the couple mentioned earlier, and it is about their journey to conception. The journey however is not easy, and according to them, it lasts about 2 years! Join Genevieve and Paul as they deal with small victories such as those times when they get to relax and not have to worry about results for awhile. They also deal with big defeats such as an insane amount of needle injections, it’s absolutely freaking crazy! You can watch the series on YouTube and new episodes are uploaded to the channel every Monday. The latest episode in the series, episode 9, is all about PGD. Turns out that Genevieve has premutation fragile x and she needs to find a way to prevent passing this to her future child. There’s even a segment that describes the overall creepiness of parents sending DNA for the sake of their children! It’s pretty wild! Be sure to subscribe to the channel if you like the content uploaded, maybe hit the notification bell, and discover more from “What the IVF?” on other online platforms. Also, tell them Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Isle of Dogs” is directed by Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel) and includes a cast of people such as Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcom in the Middle), Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk, American History X), Bob Balaban (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2010: The Year We Make Contact), Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Stripes), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), Liev Schreiber (My Little Pony: The Movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange, Snowpiercer), F. Murray Abraham (Scarface, Homeland), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, Thelma & Louise) and Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2, Her). This movie takes place in Japan and is about a young boy named Atari who is in search for his lost dog.

Going into this movie, I kind of knew what to expect, but at the same time, I was still wondering what was in store. For one thing, I’ve already seen a couple of Wes Anderson films, so I can get sense as to what his style is when it comes to filmmaking. It’s all rather fast-paced, smooth, and kind of wacky. “Isle of Dogs” is no exception to this rule.

This movie has tons of still shots that try to show a vast environment. There are lots of centered shots that will give you a view of someone or something. That technique strays away from a rule that a number of filmmakers will often use in their work, the rule of thirds. There are many shots in this film that almost command your attention and won’t let you look anywhere else, and I personally as a viewer sometimes see that as a benefit. I say that because if I for example, happened to watch this in a theater, I can just look down the middle and avoid having to turn my eyes or my head to observe everything of importance.

I’m not saying all the movie’s shots are like this however, just take this one for example, as this one has one of the dogs close up on the left, and more further back on the right. As a viewer, I’d probably be more attracted into looking on the left side of the frame than I would on the right because there’s a subject that’s closer up.

Needless to say, partially because you might as well say this has already been implied, the movie’s cinematography is spot on. The wide angles these shots provide are sure to allow the viewer to see more from side to side, and I cannot imagine the movie being shown in any other aspect ratio because of it.

Also, this movie’s stop motion animation is nothing short of breathtaking. Every little detail provided just makes you wonder how it was done, and makes me personally a bit excited for the home video release so I can possibly receive some of the tidbits behind all of this in the bonus features. This is not the first time the world has witnessed a stop motion movie from Wes Anderson. That’s because the first time was in 2010 with “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which is based on a book written by acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl. I never saw the film from start to finish, but it is something I’ve always wanted to get into because having known for some time about Anderson, he’s a fairly praised director and I personally want to get into more of his work. And I feel like this very movie is a fine example of what could qualify as the awesomeness provided from said guy’s work.

Now the main boy’s name in this movie is Atari, and as I watched this film, it almost made me want to make my own movie with a character named Atari. If I do make said film, I’d jokingly say somewhere in the script that his character is 2600 years old. Anyway, the boy is played by Koyu Rankin and I praise the casting for this movie making this kid be played by someone who is part Japanese. Fun fact about this movie by the way, I didn’t really get too annoyed by this character, but I have a feeling some audience members who go into this film will feel that way, because this kid in the movie speaks Japanese. I live in the United States and speak English, and I have a feeling that some folks who see this movie, regardless of whether they live in the United States, Canada, Spain, or a bunch of other countries will be annoyed because the character doesn’t speak their native language. And no, there are no subtitles provided during this film. There are characters who speak English however. They give a warning to viewers in the start of the film that says “All barks have been rendered into English.” Speaking of which…

Let’s talk about some dogs in this movie. And I have a feeling that I talked about this before on here, but in case you don’t know…

I hate dogs.

At this point, you probably want to put a dragon in front of me, and take me out for what you may consider to be “the good of mankind.” First off, please don’t, that’s murder. And second, my hatred for dogs doesn’t change the fact that I really admired the dogs in this film. The cast is perfect! You’ve got Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton. All of them deliver excellent voiceover performances. As far as the writing goes, each dog delivers a taste of themselves that separates them from the rest of the crew. All of them have similar sounding names (all resemble a form of a leader), but in the end, the dogs are all individuals that just make up a team. And I gotta say that some of the best parts script-wise come from when they work as a team. These parts involve fighting, discovering what’s yet to be found, discussing rumors, and one thing that really stuck out to me, their constant need to vote as a group. One other dog that wasn’t really part of the main crew that I really liked was the character of Nutmeg, played by Scarlett Johansson. She was a love interest to one of the dogs and I kind of admired their little flirtationship. It’s also perfect casting too for an ideal love interest, although I imagine this is totally up to every viewer’s interpretation, because Scarlett Johansson’s got a deep voice that can capture a man into looking at her, talking to her, and eventually admiring her. I may be biased because if you follow me on this blog, you may have seen a post or two of me endlessly admiring Scarlett Johansson, maybe a little more than I should… But anywho, Scarlett Johansson’s performance was well done here, I bought into the chemistry between and her and Chief (Bryan Cranston) and their interactions were, no pun intended, a treat.

Another highlight for me in this film is one of the major English-speaking characters that doesn’t identify as a dog, and she goes by the name of Tracy Walker, played by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, 20th Century Women). She’s a foreign exchange student and she sees something in Megasacki City’s new mayor, Kobayashi, that others don’t. She plays a big role in the film, and this is something that others see as a problem because this makes the movie look “dehumanizing” towards Asian culture and it feels out of place by having someone white take an active part in the movie’s overall plot of trying to save dogs and tarnish the new mayor. I personally don’t see her character in that way. The way that her character is used here makes the Japanese characters appear as if they’re brainwashed. This is not to say however that all the Japanese are brainwashed in real life. This does play into how Gerwig’s character is getting a different perspective as someone who is visiting Japan as opposed to living there. Think of it as if this were “The LEGO Movie,” and Kobayashi were President Business. If you make that connection and think about both movies along with their individual characters, you’ll see some similarities between the villains, and the majority of people who have no choice but to bow down to their leader.

In the end, “Isle of Dogs” is fun, charming, well put together, and at certain times, epic. Seriously, listen to the music for this movie! Thus far, this movie competes with “Annihilation” to be my favorite original movie score of 2018! Also, adults, if you want to watch this with your kids, I wouldn’t say “don’t,” but I’d also say take precautions. This movie does have some foul language in it so beware. It’s not as raunchy or dark as 2016’s “Sausage Party,” but this movie is PG-13 for a reason. I’m going to give “Isle of Dogs” an 8/10. This is a well done animation, another great piece of work from Wes Anderson, and an overall wonderful story. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to be publishing a post related to “Avengers: Infinity War,” and no, it’s not a review, I already did that. But if you want to read my review for the movie, which by the way, is spoiler-free, click the link at the end of the post. Stay tuned for more great content! Also let me just have you know that some of you around the world will have this post first published to you on May 4th, so May the 4th Be With You, Happy Star Wars Day, and I also hope you enjoy the following day, Revenge of the Fifth! I want to know, did you see “Isle of Dogs?” What did you think about it? Also, do you think this or “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is the better movie? Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/avengers-infinity-war-2018-2018s-movie-event-of-the-year/

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