By Anthony Miglieri
The first substantial peek at Wes Anderson’s latest film since The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) has finally surfaced, and it is about as surprising as it is dreadful. In other words, the new trailer for Isle of Dogs is not very surprising yet pretty delightful.
It is not surprising in that it is obviously a Wes Anderson film, what with its dry comedy, precise storybook visual composition, poignant story, and an ungodly amount of riches in its cast (including but not limited to Anderson regulars such as Bill Murray and Edward Norton and newcomers such as Scarlett Johansson and Bryan Cranston). However, I do not foresee many Wes Anderson fans being disappointed by any of this, since he has been an extremely consistent filmmaker throughout his career. Isle of Dogs appears to be a continuation of his idiosyncratic and wonderful work.
As for the plot of this new film, it is mostly laid out in the trailer: 20 years in the future in Japan, there is an outbreak of disease among dogs, and the animals are quarantined at a remote location called Trash Island. The dogs live in a solitary squalor and eat trash until a boy crash-lands on their island searching for his lost dog, Spots. From there, craziness ensues, complete with mushroom clouds and robotic canines.
Aside from all the usual Andersonian trappings, what struck me most about this trailer is the look. First off, the stop-motion animation, very much in the vein of Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), is tactile and detailed in a way few other films, let alone animated films, are. I also love the settings, including a dark metropolis of the future and the wasteland that is Trash Island. The only thing i have to compare this setting to, especially the cityscape, is the Michel Gondry-directed music video for the 1993 Donald Fagen song “Snowbound,” which also features a stop-motion animated urban, dystopian wonderland/nightmare. Also, although I have already mentioned the cast, I just have to say: hearing Bryan Cranston’s gravelly voice come out of a dog’s mouth is the prescription to a fever I never knew I had.
One great thing about a director who is so consistent and singular, both in his style and quality, is that his or her films can create a world of their own, with each release building upon the last. For my money, Wes Anderson is accompanied in this cinematic club by only a few other contemporary screen artists such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, and Quentin Tarantino. And just like all of these other filmmakers, I do not plan on missing one of Wes Anderson’s films for the foreseeable future.
Isle of Dogs is set to be released on March 23, 2018.