YOU generally know what you're going to get with a Wes Anderson film - a top-level cast, a double helping of quirkiness and often some impressive animation - but the joy is in discovering how it all fits together.
Isle of Dogs sounds like a standard animal movie for kids, but its tone and humour is aimed at a higher age group. Think Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox with canine characters and you won't be far off.
The basic plot is pretty simple - all dogs are exiled to a rubbish dump by the corrupt, cat-loving mayor of Japanese city Megasaki, whose young nephew mounts a quest to bring his precious pet home, with help from five of Trash Island's much-maligned mutts (OK not that simple at all) - but there is no shortage of hiccups, dust-ups and meet-ups along the way.
The plot machinations offer Anderson the chance to turn his artistic eye to scenarios as diverse as murder by sushi, escape by garbage conveyor and even a little kidney surgery.
Bryan Cranston (Chief) and Edward Norton (Rex) shine brightest amid a stellar ensemble voice cast as two of the adventuring pack, every scene gives something visual to admire, and the action ebbs and flows sufficiently to leave room for the dogs' varied characters to come through.
Fans of Anderson will find plenty to enjoy, while newcomers can do worse than use this as their introduction to his distinctive style.
Some may find its deadpan sense of humour a little dry, while the running time is rather on the long side, but Isle of Dogs is closer to Best In Show than mangy mongrel.
Four out of five stars.