|Scene from Isle of Dogs|
In general, one could believe that stop motion animation is an inferior art form. After all, it takes so long to get right that studios like Pixar and Dreamworks Animation just bypass the endeavor all together. However, there's something to be said for filmmakers who pull it off. In 2009, director Wes Anderson did just that with the amazing Fantastic Mr. Fox. It will be nine years since the animated world had last seen him, but the first trailer for Isle of Dogs has the familiar sense of whimsy and awe that even his live action movies have. It may seem a little disconcerting at times, but there's no denying that an Anderson animated tale can't be told any other way than stop motion. It wouldn't be quirky enough.
At this point, what can be said about an Anderson movie? The one positive note is that he's slowly become recognized by The Academy for his unique style as a filmmaker and stylist. The Grand Budapest Hotel did the unthinkable and won four Oscars in spite of being released in March. However, there's a reason that his films have begun doing so well. One could argue that since Fantastic Mr. Fox, he has become an artist who knows what he wants to show and does it so effortlessly that it's both brilliant and a bit isolating. The Grand Budapest Hotel was the closest that he came to making a storybook movie, and it makes sense to step back the elegance with his follow-up by setting it on a garbage island.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is actually my favorite Anderson movie, and it's also among my favorite animated movies period. While I think it owes something to the Anderson style of wit and cineaste approach, it was an upbeat story with memorable character beats that translated a little too well to family cinema. It was on par with Laika in that it was a movie that "outsider" kids would enjoy, continuing that odd relation that cinema has to Roald Dahl adaptations. Still, it's a film that has withstood the test of time so far and probably will continue to (fun fact: this is Meryl Streep's highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes). So for Anderson to make another animated movie seems like a great and novel idea.
Check out the trailer below:
It looks a little promising. Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy's odyssey in search of his dog.
The premise is simple, though it does seem a bit misleading based on the trailer. It looks like the story will mostly follow the dogs' perspective. Even then, it's intriguing to see the animation technique in this trailer, which feels a little less formed than Anderson's past few films. The animal characters for example seem a little stilted and odd. It could just be that these animals are more traditional than Fantastic Mr. Fox in that they walk on their respective legs instead of a more human approach, but there's something that feels odd. With that said, it's been awhile since animation in a movie have been this peculiar and staggering. It feels kind of nice.
Considering the winning streak that Anderson has been on, one cannot help but feel some excitement for Isle of Dogs. Once again, it has a March release, so it could be the little film that could. While his animated films don't seem to play as well, there's an off chance that his rising clout will help him out in some capacity. If nothing else, that voice cast is incredible and worthy of the price of admission alone. It's also nice to know that there's an animated movie to look forward to from someone besides the main group of distributors. Here's hoping that this is a good thing proving that Anderson's technique knows no cinematic limits.