REVIEW: The Wind Rises

16 11 2014

Out of recent lifetime Academy Award winner Hayao Miyazaki’s acclaimed body of work, I had only seen “Spirited Away” before stepping into “The Wind Rises.”  Yet it does not take the knowledge of his entire oeuvre to admire the beauty of Miyazaki’s final animated feature film.  The soaring feel of the piece provides a stirring reminder of the power of traditional, hand-drawn 2D animation – a filmmaking tool which the studios essentially banned.

The film follows the real-life Japanese aeronautic engineer Jiro Horikoshi from discovering the magic of the skies as a child to actually designing the birds of the sky themselves.  The story provides plenty of opportunities for the effervescent floating sensation, often times in Jiro’s reveries, that Miyazaki conveys so well.  But, unfortunately, it also follows a pretty standard, stodgy biopic formula to tedious effect.

“The Wind Rises” runs over two hours long, and I really found myself struggling to stay engaged in the back half.  (For all those who think animated movies are equivalent to kid’s movies, try getting a toddler to sit still through this movie.)  I kept trying to engage with Jiro and the rest of the characters, including his wife Nahoko, in the hopes that I might attain an emotional lift equivalent to the film’s visual splendor.  Alas, it never came for me.  C+2stars

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