ISLE OF DOGS: Another Example of the Genius of Wes Anderson

ISLE OF DOGS (or if you think about it when saying it “I Love Dogs”) is another whacky fast paced ride into the very quirky mind of Wes Anderson. If you love Wes Anderson then this is Wes Anderson cinema porn for your hungry mind. If you aren’t a fan or haven’t seen a Wes Anderson film before then EMBRACE IT, ARE YOU MAD?? It is very much to the left of centre and must be taken as a quirky view of a crazy situation, as are all his movies. This one will be highly entertaining for kids as well as adults. It is out this Thursday 12th April in Australia from the folks at 20th Century Fox, it is rated PG and runs for 101mins.


Isle of Dogs Atari Kobayashi image
Atari Kobayashi




ISLE OF DOGS is about one pissed off boy in search of his four-legged best friend. The mayor of Japan has decreed that all dogs are banished to Trash Island off the Coast of Japan. The first dog sent to Trash Island was Spots, the guard dog of said young boy, Atarai Kobayashi, who also happens to be the ward of the mayor. Atari steals a small plane and crash lands it on Trash Island and then partners up with a bunch of filthy diseased dogs to search for Spots.


Isle of Dogs Movie image
King, Duke, Boss, Rex, Chief and Atari Kobayashi image



He does it yet again. Wes Anderson can do no wrong. ISLE OF DOGS enters my “best of Wes Anderson movies” list with everything else he has ever made. It is quirky, funny and heartwarming and is again oozing in his outrageously unique style. Strong colour palette – check, subtle emotion from in-depth characters that speak with little inflection and always talk matter of factly – check. Perfectly symmetrical framing and flat composition – check. Use of actors from a lot of his previous films – check, he even has Angelica Houston playing a mute poodle haha. All tied together with one quirky invigorating comical but dark story that will make you shake your head as much as you will laugh – check!

Anderson looks at man’s best friend with new eyes and for unknown reasons sets the entire movie in Japan. The movie is told through the eyes and voices of the dogs who all speak English while the Japanese characters all speak Japanese and are never subtitled, I loved this little omitted detail. Having recently returned from Japan I was also more enamoured with the film that somehow makes the Japanese people look like bad dog-hating people while doing it in a way that the Japanese would not be insulted by. It is more they are swayed by the Mayor whose heritage has a long line of dog-hating ancestors. ISLE OF DOGS lines the film with the imbedded culture Japan is known for.

Technically the ISLE OF DOGS is flawless with the level of detail obsessive in its perfection. Anderson’s style is perfect for showing the Japanese culture with a sushi and bento box scene stealing the cultural highlights for me. That scene was just marvellous.


Isle of Dogs Movie image
Atari Kobayashi and the Dogs



In furthering the Andersonisms of the movie is the unique cast, in this case voice cast. It is so huge I really am not going to review them all. Most of them only have a line or two.

Here they are:

  • Bryan Cranston as Chief
  • Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
  • Edward Norton as Rex
  • Bob Balaban as King
  • Bill Murray as Boss
  • Jeff Goldblum as Duke
  • Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
  • Akira Takayama as Major Domo
  • Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
  • Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
  • Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
  • Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
  • Harvey Keitel as Gondo
  • F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
  • Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
  • Tilda Swinton as Oracle
  • Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
  • Mari Natsuki as Auntie
  • Fisher Stevens as Scrap
  • Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
  • Liev Schreiber as Spots
  • Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
  • Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
  • Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
  • Roman Coppola as Igor
  • Anjelica Huston as Mute Poodle

Jeff Goldblum cracked me up the most, his “Duke” was a gossipy dog that heard all the rumours and shared them accordingly. Goldblum recorded all his lines over the phone and never actually met up with any of the cast. Ed Norton also cracked me up. Odd seeing Yoko Ono voicing a human called Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono. I wanted more Tilda, I always want more Tilda and it seriously took most of the movie to work out Tracy Walker was Greta Gerwig. Curious to see no Owen Wilson in the casting!


Isle of Dogs Chief and Atari Kobayashi image
Chief and Atari Kobayashi


ISLE OF DOGS is one of the best “dog” movies ever. As it’s made by Wes Anderson it is cinematic perfection and gains a perfect score, like most of his other movies. I will be seeing this again on the big screen and will own it on Blu Ray. Do yourself a favour and see it ASAP.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.