I’m conditioned to expect a lot of surreal imagery and spirit-world chicanery in Hiyao Miyazaki’s movies with Studio Ghibli. But I suppose I could get behind a Miyazaki movie without them as long as it retains his superb animation and human insight. Luckily The Wind Rises contains both in spades, translating to the screen the story of famous Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed planes for the Japanese military before WWII. The Wind Rises does have beautiful animation, lots of it. And Horikoshi’s story is fascinating. But Miyazaki’s commitment to telling the story straight without any real fantastical elements makes it, well, kind of boring. Which is something you couldn’t have said about any of Studio Ghibli’s movies before this.
Quicker take: The wind rose, but it didn’t entertain much.