The Boy and the HeronThe Boy and the Heron
Year: 2023
Rating: PG-13
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours

Studio Ghibli films—specifically the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki—are immensely beautiful and imaginative. The distinct visual style in movies like Castle in the Sky (1986), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001) is nothing but consistent. In the latest (and perhaps last) film by Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron (2023) still maintains the beautiful 2D animation that everyone loves from this studio. The one trick with these films is that sometimes I feel the plot is a little lost in translation from Japanese to American audiences. This isn’t anyone’s fault, but it left me feeling a little lost.

While I understood the major coming-of-age themes present in The Boy and the Heron, there were so many fantastical elements in it that I felt I may have missed something from one scene to the next. Perhaps I was too tired to give this movie the adequate attention it deserved, but there were many times where I’d blink and suddenly the movie had moved on to a different location or subplot with little warning or foreshadowing. It was a little hard to follow because of this, and maybe if I saw it again I’d give this a better rating.

Overall, though, The Boy and the Heron is a visual achievement. In an age where most films are 3D CGI, this one at least looks like it’s put together with high-quality hand-drawn animation. Everything was so colorful and expressive, whether it was the titular Heron or the army of parakeets. It’s a little saddening that we won’t get these creative fantasy visuals from Miyazaki anymore, but at least he went out on the top of his game in this department.

A visual masterpiece that was a little hard to follow at times, I give The Boy and the Heron 3.5 stars out of 5.

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