Critics Lap Up Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’


“Isle of Dogs” is a return to stop-motion animation for Wes Anderson after “Fantastic Mr. Fox” from 2009. Credit Twentieth Century Fox

The Berlin Film Festival opened on Thursday with the world premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs.” The stop-motion animated film follows a pack of mutts, voiced by Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum, who are exiled to a trash-strewn Japanese island after an outbreak of canine flu.

The film is the highest-profile feature in the 10-day festival, known as the Berlinale. Mr. Anderson also opened the 2014 event with “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Early reviews of the “Isle of Dogs,” which opens in the United States on March 23, celebrated the use of animation in particular. Mr. Anderson’s previous stop-motion film, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” was nominated for the Academy Award for best animated feature in 2010.

“Given the heightened complexity of Anderson’s cinematic environments, with their whirligig detailing and multitude of moving parts, animation was always a logical sidestep for America’s most artisanal auteur,” wrote Guy Lodge, a film critic at Variety. Mr. Lodge applauded the production designers Adam Stockhausen (who also worked on “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Moonrise Kingdom”) and Paul Harrod, noting that even the garbage “looks handpicked.”

David Ehrlich, senior film critic at IndieWire, called the movie “nothing if not Anderson’s most imaginative film to date.” Drawing a parallel between the film’s setting and current global events, Mr. Ehrlich wrote that Mr. Anderson is at his best in times of disorder. “Anderson has always been attuned to the beauty of magical idylls, to the violence of losing them, and (most of all) to the fumblingly tragicomic process of building something better from the rubble,” he wrote.

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