Isle of Dogs; An interesting movie that is not to be missed out on

Liev Schreiber, voice of Spots, at a screening of Isle of Dogs. Picture provided by commons

Kennedy Stone, Staff Writer

One of the things that sadden me as a reviewer is the fact that most people miss out on interesting movies just because they look or sound different than traditional American films. Stop motion, anime movies and other cultural pictures only stay in theaters for two weeks at a time, because they do not make enough money. Case and point, the movie “Isle of Dogs” produced by the company Indian Paintbrush, is a perfect example of a good movie that most people will not experience.

This movie takes place in Japan when an outbreak of dog flu leads to the exile of dogs to an island full of trash and garbage. The story centers around a group of dogs that find a young boy named Atari. The boy came to the island in hopes of finding his dog he had before the outbreak. The dogs decide to help the Atari despite the dangers on the island, and aware that the pet they are looking for might not even be alive.

The first thing you should know, and the first turn off for some people, is that the whole movie is not in English. Parts of the movie are in Japanese with English subtitles. While this can be offputting at sometimes, it gives the movie more authenticity and will keep your attention constantly. That being said, this movie does have pauses that are dedicated to showing Japanese cultural and letting emotions really sink in, something that nowadays isn’t used very much because most people think audiences want constant action and dialogue.

Even with all the things going against it, this film has a certain charm that seems to cover up almost every off-putting aspect. The characters, while not the deepest, still have arcs. No one character is left alone for too long, and always serves a helpful role in the story. Everyone gets their chance to shine and have funny moments. The script balances out the comedy and serious moments very well. Like whenever the dogs are trying to communicate with the Atari, and end up arguing with each other. This makes up for the odd pacing and cultural differences because these writing choices keep you on your toes and remind you that you are still watching a story unfold, no matter how different it is. Also, the voice acting is pretty soft spoken but it is mixed with meaningful dialogue especially towards the climax of the film. All of these stylistic moves play into the bigger points of the movie that revolves around family, loyalty, survival instincts and flaws in society.

In terms of negative things about the movie, the only big issue was in the very beginning. The first part has trouble with “showing not telling”. Which might annoy some people. This basically means they spend a bit too much time seemingly talking with the audience and giving exposition. More so in the very beginning when they go on for way too long about how dogs fell from grace, and now cats are the ruling pets. Not to mention there might be some aspects of strict family dynamics, distances traveled, that might make people stretch their imaginations too far. As soon as this part is over, the rest of the film is pretty solid, though.

The way all the story elements come together, in the end, makes this movie a very satisfying watch. For that reason, I give this movie an eight out of 10. I hope that people will get out of their comfort zones and try seeing this movie. While not perfect, it is definitely an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.