Review: The Wind Rises (2014)

The Wind Rises

Purported to be celebrated director and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises arrives with a lot of expectation, but sadly falls short of his past works’ lustre. Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno) has dreamt of becoming a pilot since he was a small child. But when an eyesight impediment forces him to change tacks, he instead matures into a famed aeronautical engineer. The Wind Rises is decidedly darker and more measured than Miyazaki’s previous efforts, and not a wholly satisfying one at that. Miyazaki’s script has no clear sense of direction, incorporating dozens of plot threads – most notably Jiro’s relationship with Naoko (Miori Takimoto) – without ever reaching a crux. And, while the action sequences usher in the occasional thrill, they’re used too sporadically to ensure the film ever really takes flight. The animation is as resplendent as ever, with the vast, brightly coloured skyline reflecting Jiro’s wide-eyed imagination (the dream sequences are by far the films best feature). Yet there’s little to back it up in terms of emotional depth or dramatic conflict, with the impending threat of Jiro’s designs being used negatively never more than that – a threat. It’s sad news that Hayao Miyazaki is retiring, but even sadder that he’s leaving on such a limp note.

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