- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2018

Here’s a pair of reviews highlighting movies recently released in the Blu-ray format.

Isle of Dogs (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 101 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.99) — The meticulous artistry of stop-motion animation came to life earlier this year in director Wes Anderson’s latest critically acclaimed but underappreciated effort.

Now available on high-definition format, the really bizarre, but very endearing, dystopian story finds Megasaki City’s dog-hating Mayor Kobayashi banishing all pooches to the distant Trash Island after the canines come down with multiple infectious maladies.

The orphaned ward of the leader, a young boy named Atari, disagrees with the plan and steals a jet plane to get to the island and search for his beloved pet Spots, the first dog exiled.

His uncle calls in his army to search for the boy by all aggressive means necessary (including using canine robots) to bring him back home, while also taking his dog ban mandate to diabolical extremes.

Scenes highlighting the detailed animation include the mangy mutts in various stages of fur distress roaming the island, the crash landing of Atari’s jet, a sumo wrestling match and even a kidney transplant operation are impressively animated.

Viewers will appreciate the painstaking work involved in creating this masterpiece and the impressive all-star cast who lend their voices as the principal pooches on the island of furry misfits.

They include Bryan Cranston as the angry stray Chief, Bill Murray as Megasaki Dragons’ team mascot Boss, Edward Norton as alpha dogs’ leader Rex, Jeff Goldblum as gossipy alpha dog Duke, Harvey Keitel as ferocious dog pack leader Gondo, and Scarlett Johansson as former show dog Nutmeg.

I can’t gush enough about “Isle of Dogs,” which fuses old school creativity with a charming story.

Best extras: I wish viewers could have gotten hours of behind-the-scene footage to just really understand the craftsmanship involved in the stop-motion process that required 27 animators and 10 assistants working with over 800 character models.

Alas, only a smattering of six, too-short featurettes (21 minutes in total) reveal some of the magic.

Segments touch on building the puppets (including punching millions of hairs in, one at a time, on the dogs and human models); briefly showing the animators at work as they move the models; building special effects (such as using cotton to show clouds or enhancing dusty dogfights); and building over 240 sets for the movie.

Most amusing of the bunch are 5 minutes worth of interviews with cast members, as their words are relayed through their onscreen characters.

Super Troopers 2 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, 99 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $34.99) — After a 17-year respite, movie audiences were once again subjected to the sophomoric hijinks of a band of wacky, mustached police officers brought to life by the famed Broken Lizard comedy troupe.

Now unnecessarily released in the high-definition format, this sequel exposes home theater viewers to 100 minutes of crotch punishment, double-entendres, male nudity, pratfalls, electrocutions, and a ballet of fart jokes and F-bombs.

The story finds the members of the Spurbury Police Department surviving their assistance in the accidental death of Fred Savage and resurrecting their careers as state troopers after part of Canada is annexed by Vermont.

After some training and extra harassing from the Mounties, they must now dish out their brand of unique law enforcement on the unruly citizens of the Great White North.

The humor intruded enough to become a distraction during my nap, and appearances by such distinguished thespians as Brian Cox, Lynda Carter and Rob Lowe reek of a cash grab or blackmail.

Surprisingly, the film (initially funded by an Indiegogo crowdsourcing initiative) made way too much money at the box office and, start weeping now, the potential for yet another forgettable sequel could be imminent.

Best extras: Does anyone really need a 40-minute featurette on the making of this film? Only the hardest of hard core will dive in and appreciate the behind-the-scenes footage; interviews with the cast and crew; and members of Broken Lizard meeting some of the fans who ponied up over $2 million (that is correct, sir) to get the production started.

The addition of 21 extended or deleted scenes should also thrill the Super Trooper’s devotees.

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