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Boy that longs to be reunited with his lost dog

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ISLE OF DOGS (PG)

Writer-director Wes Anderson returns to stop-motion animation for a self-consciously offbeat buddy comedy on two and four legs.

Isle Of Dogs reunites the filmmaker with longtime collaborators behind and in front of the camera. Anderson employs an episodic structure with pithy chapter headings like The Little Pilot, The Rendezvous and Atari’s Lantern to neatly bookmark his visually stunning odyssey of a 12-year-old boy (Koyu Rankin), who intends to be reunited with his shaggy pet. The detail of miniature sets and character figures is remarkable and there are some lovely touches like multiple uses for cotton wool and lice slaloming through dogs’ matted fur in skin-crawling close-up.

The film is arch, knowing and impeccably conceived but emotionally a tad chilly, revelling in the inventiveness and imagination of the writer-director’s unique vision at the expense of collaring our emotions for a satisfying walk.

READY PLAYER ONE (12A)

Set in the mid-21st century, Ready Player One is a dystopian big budget fantasy, which imagines a resource-depleted world that relies on virtual reality as an escape from the gloom of the everyday.

On more than one occasion, Steven Spielberg’s film issues dire warnings about the zombification of entire generations, who believe “meaningful” relationships can be forged online.

It’s a bitter irony that Spielberg’s picture gleefully ignores its own advice to hurtle at breakneck speed into eye-popping digital realms crammed with gaming in-jokes, but offers us no compelling reason to remove the goggles and interface in person.

As a visual spectacle, the film is a tour-de-force of technical wizardry. Unfortunately, the fast and furious smacking of gobs doesn’t extend to a script adapted from Ernest Cline’s celebrated 2011 novel by the author and Zak Penn.