It’s visually ravishing, of course; we’ve come to expect as much from Studio Ghibli. Legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Ponyo) concocts gorgeous sequences that sit somewhere between steampunk engineering fantasias and grounded historical between-the-wars nostalgias. But there’s no drama and no conflict in this semifictionalized tale of Jiro Horikoshi. He dreamed of designing “beautiful airplanes” from his early-20th-century boyhood… and no obstacles stand in his way along the path to joining Mitsubishi as an aeronautical engineer. He doesn’t want to make aircraft for warfare, but that’s the direction things are moving in throughout the 1930s, and so he helps to create and build the Zero fighter plane that the Imperial Japanese navy would use throughout World War II. If you can get through to the very very end, there’s a bittersweet coda as Horikoshi revisits in his mind, as he has throughout his life, his inspiration, Italian engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni — always “Mr. Caproni” to Jiro in his imagination — wherein they acknowledge how their dreams are twisted by others into nightmares. But it’s a long slog to get there.
I viewed the subtitled Japanese-language version of ‘The Wind Rises.’ The voice cast of the English-language-dubbed version includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci.