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Wes Anderson
Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston
Writing Credits:
Wes Anderson

A boy searches for his missing dog.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5,475,139 on 1939 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 7/17/2018
• 6 Promotional Featurettes
• Gallery
• Trailer
• DVD Copy


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Isle of Dogs [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 18, 2018)

Back in 2009, Wes Anderson departed from live-action films to create The Fantastic Mr. Fox. With 2018’s Isle of Dogs, he returns to the realm of stop-motion animation.

In the Japanese city of Megasaki, a massive outbreak of dog flu creates problems. As a reaction to this, Mayor Kobayashi (voiced by Kunichi Nomura) forces all the domain’s dogs to live on Trash Island.

Not everyone accepts this, and a boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) travels to Trash Island to locate his missing pooch Spots (Liev Schreiber). Assisted by canine Rex (Edward Norton) and others, Atari strives to rescue Spots.

I admit that as the years pass, I find it more and more difficult to embrace the films of Anderson. I think the break occurred with 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom, as I felt that effort took Anderson too far into the realm of self-parody.

2014’s Grand Budapest Hotel offered a minor rebound, but it still felt too much like a spoof of an Anderson film. Because I liked Mr. Fox, though, I hoped that Anderson’s return to animation would work for me.

And it does, though it seems less satisfying than Mr. Fox - a bit of a surprise given my immense fondness for dogs. Canines rule my world, so a story about a boy who tries to rescue his pooch should strike a chord.

Anderson’s intentionally stiff style makes it more difficult to embrace Isle in an emotional manner, though. I feel like I should appreciate Anderson’s general unwillingness to wallow in sentiment, but he tends to keep things so chilly that I wish he’d indulge in a bit more warmth.

Like other Anderson works, Isle can feel more like an art project than a film, but that seems like less of a problem in this tale’s fantasy world. Given the animation style on display, the movie’s unreal tendencies don’t become an issue, and the hyper-stylized photography also becomes less of a concern.

Animation suits Anderson better than live-action due to his natural desire for such precise, “art directed” films. This format allows him a higher level of control, and as mentioned, it de-emphasizes the awkward unreality of the live-action material.

While Isle lacks a particularly compelling story or characters, it does benefit from an excellent cast. In addition to those already mentioned, Isle includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Bob Balaban, Frances McDormand and others too numerous to type.

They add obvious star power to the project, and they usually deliver good performances as well – within the typically underplayed style favored by Anderson, at least. His general insistence on semi-flat, deadpan line readings gets old, but the actors still offer enough personality to add life.

The film’s stop-motion animation also looks simply gorgeous. Again, this format suits Anderson’s desire for rich, detailed visual material and gives him more control than possible in live—action. He takes advantage of this to bring us a movie with a vivid sense of place that offers a feast for the eyes.

I just wish I invested in the story and characters more than I do. Isle remains reasonably enjoyable and acts as a step up from many Wes Anderson works, but it often feels more like a triumph of animation technique over filmmaking substance.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Isle of Dogs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a terrific visual presentation.

From start to finish, sharpness looked great. At no time did any softness interfere, so I found a tight, precise image.

The movie lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent as well. No print flaws appeared.

Unlike most modern films, Isle came with no persistent palette, so it embraced a mix of hues dependent on locations and circumstances. While parts of the movie felt desaturated, a lot of it opted for rich, vivid colors and the Blu-ray made these dynamic and full.

Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows seemed smooth and concise. Everything about the image looked great.

While not quite as satisfying, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack still managed to fare nicely, with a soundscape that featured music as a lively participant. The score filled out the five channels in a broad, engaging way that used the music well.

Effects didn’t have as much to do, but they still added range to the package. When necessary, the various elements fleshed out the spectrum to give us material that seemed well-placed and that blended smoothly.

Audio quality excelled, with speech that appeared natural and concise. Effects showed nice accuracy and range.

Again, music worked best of all, with clear tones that boasted excellent low-end. Bass response satisfied across the board, as the mix used the LFE channel to nice effect. I liked this track quite a lot.

In terms of extras, the main focus comes from six Promotional Featurettes. All together, these fill 20 minutes, 57 seconds as we find “Animators” (3:42), “Cast Interviews” (5:09), “Puppets” (4:03), “An Ode to Dogs” (2:00), “Megasaki City and Trash Island” (2:59) and “Weather and Elements” (3:04).

Across these, we hear from writer/director Wes Anderson, producer Jeremy Dawson, animation director Mark Waring, lead animator Jason Stalman, key animator Chuck Duke, Head of Puppets Department Andy Gent, Head of Sculpting Christy Matta, Head of Moulding Cormac McKee, lead armiture maker Josie Corben, Head of Silcone Magda Bieszczak, Head of Painting Department Angela Kiely, Head of Hair Department Alex Williams, Head of Fur Department Aine Woods, Head of Costume Maggie Haden, director of photography Tristan Oliver, lead graphic designer Erica Dorn, production designer Paul Harrod, lead set dresser Barry Jones, senior visual effects supervisor Tim Ledbury, and actors Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, and Tilda Swinton.

The featurettes look at animation and puppets, cast and characters and set design. While these exist to promote the movie, they offer enough useful footage from the production to add to our understanding of the shoot.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a gallery. It shows 15 promotional images, with an emphasis on shots of the actors with their relevant puppets. It’s a short but engaging compilation.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Isle. It includes none of the Blu-ray’s extras.

In his return to animation, Wes Anderson creates a decent fable via Isle of Dogs. I think it lacks the necessary heart to become enchanting, but it looks great and comes with such a strong cast that it generally satisfies. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with very good audio but it skimps on supplements. This turns into a moderately engaging animated effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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