6 March 2014 | zetes
Miyazaki's swan song, most likely. It's an animated biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aircraft engineer who developed the Zero, the plane which would eventually bomb Pearl Harbor and do kamikaze attacks in WWII. The man himself was a pacifist (at least according to this film). Most of the film just deals with the man's love for flight, which obviously makes the story very dear to Miyazaki. In fact, a good portion of the film takes place in Horikoshi's dreams, where he can invent any crazy contraption. First and foremost, the film is gorgeous. Though it mostly deals with the real world, it finds the beauty in it. As good as the film is, it isn't one of Miyazaki's best. It's a little long-winded and slow (definitely don't take your kids to it, even if they're big Ghibli fans). Miyazaki kind of neuters the militaristic history of Japan at that time. You can feel some terrible stuff going on in the background, but, outside of the Germans, whom our hero visits at one point, all the characters whom we meet are perfectly nice people. I would have liked a more detailed picture of history at the time. Also, the romance that is depicted in the film, which is entirely invented, is a tad too maudlin (though it is quite nice up front). And, though I won't hold it against the film itself, the English language dub is awful. This may be due to the film's specific, Japanese setting, but I really felt the voice actors were just dull as Hell. I hate to say it, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role is the worst. The least offensive performances come from Martin Short and Mae Whitman (the latter is a professional voice actress who is great on Avatar: The Last Airbender, though she is best known for her role as Michael Cera's dull girlfriend Ann on Arrested Development). I wish I had just seen the subtitled version instead (it was playing here, but at an inconvenient theater). I might like the film better seeing it subtitled. All those criticisms don't amount to too much, though. It's a wonderful film.