Will The Wind Rises Be Hayao Miyazaki’s Last Film? Let’s Hope Not.



Finally opening in theaters this weekend will be Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. I delayed a Top Ten list for it and didn’t bother with one after waiting so long to see most of the contenders at play. (At the end of 2014, I won’t be waiting.) The Wind Rises played the elite fall festival circuit (Telluride, Toronto, Venice, etc.) and made its way to the elitist city of Boulder (Colorado) last week where I watched it. The Wind Rises was anticipated to be a formidable challenger to Frozen in the Best Animated Feature Oscar category. Something happened. The buzz vanished as quickly as festivals end. Disney “kept it on the shelf” during the pivotal awards season. Disney did this to protect their big Frozen brand from achieving Oscar glory. I was let down with The Wind Rises from the perspective of grand storytelling. Regardless of sky high expectations, there is a lot of embrace from The Wind Rises as a narrative animated feature especially in the American era of cute, superficial Minions.


Synopsis: In “The Wind Rises,” Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. — (C) Studio Ghibli




The visuals here are breathtaking works of art masterfully constructed. Re-imaged World War 2 era Japan were awe inspiring and imaginative without Miyazaki’s trademark majestic qualities. The Wind Rises is grounded in realism without the bizarre creatures and kooky visuals his fan base has come to adore. My major issue with the American release was the dubbing. As Jirô Horikoshi, Joseph Gordon Levitt was pretty successful delivering his believable vocal talent. Everyone else seemed adequate in their English language vocal work except John Krasinski as Honjô. He sounded like Jim from TV’s The Office. I couldn’t understand his character or point in the movie because I was distracted. It doesn’t help his voice is in prominent Pandora Radio spots, either. To my surprise, modern American slang crept into this movie. Did people during the WWII era say “Nah” and “Nope” to one another? Probably not. This wasn’t the only occurrence of out of place, modern lingo, but it was the most memorable and worth noting.


The speaker who introduced the screening of The Wind Rises at the Boulder Film Festival hinted this might not be Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie. I hope this is the case and he makes more. The Wind Rises offers an epic size movie without the emotional connection or creative energy of his last few ventures. I could tell the college aged, Pokémon generation who attended the screening really dug it. However, Miyazaki’s legacy embodied in his final movie must expand beyond appeasing to younger tastes. In the grand scale of his diverse and talented career, Miyazaki deserves a better farewell. So does his eclectic  fan-base.



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About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

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