Isle Of Dogs Movie Review

isle of dogs

See it. 9/10

Japan. Dogs. Wes Anderson

Three things that I really like in life come together in film format and it (not surprisingly), didn’t disappoint. Just like how the title of Wes Anderson’s latest movie sounds like, I loved Isle of Dogs.

And such a name was no coincidence because this film is not only about an island of dogs but it’s more so about people who love dogs. Which in reality, is quite a lot. But, in the movie, is one that has many divided and turning on man’s best friend, as a new plague of dog flu and disease has crippled our beloved pets and have seen them banished to live in solitude on island aptly titled as “Trash Island”. Will someone step up and save our now seemingly lost and sick canine friends? Can humanity be so cruel to those that have been with us for almost all our lives and who have listened patiently to every word we’ve told them without saying anything back?

The answer to those questions is of course no. But Isle of Dogs explores the journey of man’s connection with his animal best friend and it’s done so in glorious stop-motion animation.

Like another great film that used this technique and was also directed by Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox, the production on his latest is simply outstanding. As soon as I saw the opening scene, I knew it was going to be a work of art. That single frame alone has bested anything else visually that has come out this year, but this, again is no surprise because this is what I’ve come to expect from watching a great director and master at his work. Though his live-action films are also great, working in the medium of stop-motion animation feels like it suits him even more so.

Wes Anderson is an intricate and detailed scene selector. He knows exactly how everything is meant to be shot and knows exactly where everything is meant to be placed. It’s often why people have called him out for his love of having objects being centered in a symmetrical way but what’s the problem? Sure, it might be somewhat a repetitive trait across most of his films but when it’s something that’s done intentionally to produce an aesthetic look, that actually fucking looks nice, how can you complain? I love the time and effort being put into making things fit in a frame setup and that can still deliver an equally, if not more so, entertaining film compared to others that use an overabundance of different shots and can’t replicate the same aesthetic appeal that Wes Anderson can.

But of course, all of this isn’t just credit to solely Wes Anderson, as almost all the credit should go to the great production team behind him. Whether it be from the details of the characters themselves, with each dog that you see having their own distinct features that make up who they are and what unique look they comprise of. Or just the great set designs and background artwork that I can tell was worked on for an extended period of time, and often only used for one second of a particular scene as Anderson’s famous lateral tracking shot passes quickly by. The love and joy to make all this happen fully knowing that it might only appear briefly in the film and not be shown ever again is just another testament to the greatness of this film.

But if I was to have any real qualms with Isle of Dogs, it’s probably more so with the fact that the story doesn’t necessarily match the production quality behind it. It’s nothing terrible or dramatic to be detrimental enough for me to hate, but compared to Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox, I enjoyed some of the takeaway themes and humor in those films more so than Isle of Dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the messages and comedy in his latest film, but it wasn’t as significant compared to others and I’ve had a more enjoyable time with those aspects elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Isle of Dogs is still a very well-made film and probably one of the best production designs that will come out this year. It also has a stupendous amount of all-star voices behind the cast of characters which is also an added bonus that gives you an opportunity to hear some talented actors act on their use of dialogue alone, which was interesting to take note of. I think Jeff Goldblum and Bryan Cranston were particular standouts, even if Jeff Goldblum was simply just being Jeff Goldblum and Bryan Cranston was just reiterating his great acting talent that I’ve come to know from him.

But the production of this film is what you should all come to see. It’s unbelievably gorgeous to look at and I can’t wait to give it another watch again and use certain stills as future wallpapers for my desktop when the Blu-Ray comes out. Wes Anderson continues to impress on his filmography with a lovely and touching story about man’s best friend, and one that is just a visual joy to see on screen. See it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox Movie Review

fantastic mr fox

See it. 8/10

Given Wes Anderson is about to release another stop-motion animation picture, Isle Of Dogs, let’s dive into reviewing his very first animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name, the plot follows the life of a thieving but good-hearted fox, who is simply trying to provide for his family. Unfortunately, he is thieving from three of the meanest and wealthiest farmers in the area, who become tired of Mr. Fox’s criminal activities and decide to think up a scheme to get rid of him once and for all. You might already gather that the story does feel very much like it was intended for children, and I mean duh, it was based on a children’s novel, but unlike most children book to film adaptations, this is a film that can be pleasantly enjoyed by adult’s as well.

This is thanks largely to its marvelous director, whose filmography is one of the best in the business. In his first venture to stop-motion animation, Anderson’s eye for detail is matched with an amazing production design. From the set pieces to the tiniest amount of character traits that have been precisely manufactured, everything in this world that Anderson oversees is amazing to look at. Since everything has to be animated, later on, it just staggers me how much effort would have to be put in to make it all happen. It might also have helped that Anderson directed a crew that also worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, another stop-motion animated film, so I’m not surprised by how great everything looked.

Another great aspect, which should be no surprise, is the obvious skill of Anderson’s shot selection. Apart from being a director who loves to have symmetry in his films, he’s also one of the best users of the lateral tracking shot. Often these scenes, which employ this type of shot, will follow sideways with the characters for extended lengths of time, taking with it all the beautiful visual design in the background. It’s even crazier to think that whilst there was a large amount of effort put into building these set pieces, the shots whizz by so quickly and the set piece is never seen again. These extremely small one-percenters, that have an incredible amount of work behind them but only are used for a few seconds of the runtime, is why I love this film and this director.

There’s not much else to say when it comes down to it because, at the end of the day, when you hear the name of Wes Anderson, you know exactly what you’re getting into a great film. He’s one of the best working in the business and he’s been growing strength to strength with every movie that he’s made. I’m happy to see him return back to the stop-motion animation platform with his latest about to be released, and the fact that’s it set in Japan and has dogs in it is putting almost all of my favorite things in this world together. So, before you go and enjoy that film, make sure you revisit Fantastic Mr. Fox, especially since it’s on Netflix and easily watchable.

The LEGO Movie Review

the lego movie

See it. 9/10

I can’t believe I liked this so much, but Goddamn (!), The LEGO Movie is if anything, seriously underrated.

Like most others, when I saw that LEGO was making a movie, I couldn’t help but think this was just going to be yet another way for a company to market their product to a mass audience. That this was just going to be a big ass LEGO commercial for kids, which would make their parents buy them more LEGO because they saw the new movie and they want everything and anything that was in the new movie.

But what no one expected was that it was actually going to be a cleverly written and very funny film. A film that was smart enough for adults to enjoy but also still is childishly delightful for kids. If you’re still a skeptic, let me explain why in this review.

The movie follows a construction worker Emmet Brickowski (get it, Brick-owski), who finds himself quickly swept up as part of a resistance group, who are trying to overthrow a tyrannical maniac that is about ruining the world of LEGO as they know it. Sounds simple enough but hold your horses, this synopsis doesn’t do justice to the number of layers and degrees of complexity that is behind it.

It is a movie that takes common film and narrative clichés, that would have dragged it down as any other normal kids movie would, and throws it upside down by being a parody of all those said clichés. This happens straight from the get-go, as Emmet shows us the aspects of how to be awesome and happy in this world, what everyone else is meant to do, and why everything is how it is. It’s this dystopian exaggeration of our society, that’s translated to a computer-animated LEGO world that makes it so clever. All of this is subtle enough that you might be mistaken to pass it over as a film that is following typical cliché’s, and that doesn’t realize it’s actually just an intelligent satire of those aspects.

This is why The LEGO Movie isn’t just any ordinary kid’s movie. Thanks to the incredibly spectacular computer-animation, you’ve got yourself a seriously underrated film. I am baffled at how this film wasn’t even considered for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature Film category and is probably a reflection towards the idea that most of the Academy members don’t even watch the films they nominate. If you just watch the trailer alone, you’ll be astounded at how amazing the visuals are, and much like my love for stop-animation, the detail to set designs and character movements are fantastic.

The LEGO Movie is a story within a story. It is one of the most entertaining animated movies to date and a movie that is leagues beyond what I was expecting. Equally smart as it is funny, if you are yet to see this film, go check it out on Netflix because you’d be hard-pressed to find others that can come even close to giving you the same experience. See it.