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Isle of Dogs ~ A Capsule Movie Review

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Isle of Dogs ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Director Wes Anderson is known for his quirky, visually arresting movies such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. His latest is Isle of Dogs, an animated fable, full of wry humor, about the search for a lost dog and political corruption involving propaganda and conspiracy theory (sound familiar?) in the fictitious Japanese city of Megasaki City twenty years into the future.

The mayor of Megasaki City, Mayor Kobayashi, is corrupt and has been in office far too long (he’s always re-elected overwhelmingly). As with despots and tyrants everywhere, he uses propaganda to turn the people against somebody or something. In this case, the something is dogs. The propaganda has it that dogs have diseases that can be passed on to humans and are therefore dangerous. He succeeds in getting a large portion of the human population to hate dogs. He has the dogs in the city exiled to Trash Island, a cankerous landfill where the dogs will die of neglect, starvation and disease.

There is, however, a passionate pro-dog contingent, who knows of the existence of a dog-flu serum that will instantly cure any dog of disease. Knowledge of the serum is, of course, suppressed by Mayor Kobayashi and his political machine. (Ever have the feeling that the government or slick politicians suppress information that we have the right to know?)

Mayor Kobayashi has a ward, a twelve-year-old boy named Atari, who has (or had) a dog named Spots Kobayashi. When Spots is exiled to Trash Island with other dogs, Atari takes it upon himself to fly there in a small plane he has commandeered. The plane crashes on the island and Atari is “rescued” by a small contingent of talking dogs: Chief, Rex, King, Boss and Duke. They help Atari look for his lost dog on Trash Island. “If he’s alive, we’ll find him,” they tell Atari.

Though it is animated, Isle of Dogs is not a movie for the kindergarten set. It’s strictly an art house movie for thinking people who want to see something entirely original and unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. And, remember: though Atari speaks only Japanese, all barks are translated into English.

Copyright © 2018 by Allen Kopp

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