Review: The Wind Rises / Cert: 12A / Director: Hayao Miyazaki / Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki / Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt / UK Release Date: May 9th
For decades, Hayao Miyazaki has made it his mission to deliver top-notch animated fare to the masses, going above and beyond in making each film fun, unique, and incredibly entertaining. He's dabbled in many genres, and even dared to blend some that had no business being put together. His work ranges from the fantastical to the grounded, injecting each project with a level of emotion and magic that is all too rare. It is with heavy hearts, then, that we here at Starburst realise this is the last Miyazaki film we'll get to review. It's been an exciting and memorable run, and his retirement will definitely have a significant impact on both the industry and our emotions.
If he's going out, he'd want to go out strong, and that's exactly what he does with his poignant, moving, and thoughtful swan song. What at first seems to be a biopic about a gifted aeronautical engineer quickly transforms into a haunting, contemplative, and touching tale about love, loss, and the price of passion. Miyazaki carefully illustrates his point with cleverly placed symbolism and surrealism, turning what could have been a bland historical piece into a creative commentary on the price one must pay for success.
Jiro can't fly aeroplanes on account of his nearly crippling vision impairment, but he can design them like nobody's business. His love for airborne machines thrusts him into the complicated and controversial world of aeronautical engineering, where he learns that the key to success isn't all just knowing nuts and bolts. Fate and a massive earthquake introduce him to Naoko, the beautiful daughter of a Japanese hotel owner and the future love of his life. Naoko becomes infatuated with Jiro, and after years of being apart, the two become reacquainted and kindle a romance. But Jiro soon finds out that Naoko is suffering from tuberculosis and is dying before his eyes. With Naoko's days numbered and an aeroplane to complete, Jiro is torn between his dream and his love.
The film's most glaring misstep is its plodding pace. No one should expect high-octane action or perilous danger, but long stretches of minimal plot progression and dull character exchanges isn't exactly welcome here, either. It really is a shame that the movie's middle act suffers, but its strong opening and its even more powerful final scenes pack such a punch that at the end of the day, this complaint turns out to be fairly trivial.
The Wind Rises is anime in its deepest, most incredible form, presenting themes and ideas that will no doubt spark some fierce controversy but that will also move and inspire countless viewers. We salute you, Mr. Miyazaki, and all of the groundbreaking things you have done for cinema.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10