Wes Anderson has always quietly reveled in the quirky, so it's no surprise that he'd step into stop-motion animation with Isle of Dogs, a weird and ultimately warm journey that's everything from an epic quest to a young boy's love for his dog.

Set 20 years in the future, Japan's corrupt Mayor Kobayishi (Kunichi Nomura) has a solution for the dog overpopulation and diseases: ship all dogs, from pets to strays, off to Trash Island.  The dogs there have a miserable existence, forming packs to survive and battling each other for scraps and trash they can eat.  The movie's main pack consists of Chief (Bryan Cranston), a stray who never had a master; Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldblum).
 The pack's world changes when a small plane crashes on Trash Isle, piloted by young boy Atari (Koyu Rankin).  He's come to the Isle in search of his guard dog Spots (Liev Schreiber), and the pack agrees to help him; Chief doesn't want to, but he's outvoted by the others.  Atari is also Mayor Kobayishi's nephew, and the corrupt mayor makes it look like Atari was kidnapped by the dogs.  Kobayishi also acts against his scientific political rival, keeping the cure for the dog problems under wraps while working on a final solution for the dogs.  And foreign exchange student Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) uses her school newspaper to investigate Atari's disappearance and the government corruption
There's a lot going on in Isle of Dogs -- and it pretty much all works.  While this movie can be darker than many cartoons for children, there are also some silly moments, from the robot dogs to the fights appearing in a cloud with limbs popping in and out.  The voice talent is very good -- especially Bryan Cranston's reluctant hero Chief -- and there's a look and feel to the movie that is pretty unique for movies today.  Isle of Dogs is an impressive and fairly unique movie experience.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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