Cartoon Network // 2010 // 69 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 21st, 2011
Part human. Part dragon. All hero.
What to make of Cartoon Network's franchise-launching original movie? Are the adventures of a firebreathing teenaged freak worth pursuing?
Attending a new school is the least of Duncan Rosenblatt's concerns. As he prepares to assimilate into the student body there are bigger things on his mind, specifically his role in the ongoing existential war between humans and Kaiju, gigantic monsters that breathe fire and crush things underfoot.
Duncan is the bastard offspring of a human woman, his badass, dragon-nuking mother, and Belloc, the leader of the Kaiju. How these two ever hooked up is, thankfully, left unexplained.
Not bad. Though miles from delivering a timeless and original experience I will grant Firebreather this: it fits snugly into the super-powered-angst-ridden-teen genre. As a bonus there are some genuinely interesting concepts tossed in, signifying solid storytelling potential should this property ever make it to serialized television as the ending so clearly anticipates.
What keeps it back from being truly noteworthy is the loads of generic tropes that dominate the film. For example, our hero, Duncan, faces the same tired trials and tribulations in high school that seemingly all new kids do, regardless of their appearance. He's picked on by jock-sniffing bullies and ignored by the hot girl even though a) he's a good-looking dude with awesome hair, b) possesses superhuman strength and c) can breathe fire. I'm not sure about other places, but at the high school I attended, someone like that would definitely find himself sitting at the popular kids' lunch table and hurling apple juice drink boxes in my general direction.
Eventually, Duncan does grab the attention of the pretty girl and for some inexplicable reason his mother brings her along in her super-jet to fight some dragons. I understand that this is standard operating procedure for goofy kids movies, having a confused teenaged girl who was organizing the prom on one day and shooting laser guns at killer monsters the next plays a pivotal role in the Big Action Culmination, but it's still pretty ridiculous.
No matter. Firebreather is all about the pop and the sizzle and it has that. Duncan might be a whiner in school, but out on the battlefield, he's a nifty creation. The fire-breathing makes from some snazzy visual effects and when he fully turns into dragon-boy, the actions scenes jump up a few degrees in slickness.
As a possible series, staying power will come from Duncan's position in the middle of the human/monster conflict, the nuances of which made up the aforementioned "interesting concepts." To be honest, I likely wouldn't tune in, but I can see this production gaining sold traction among the Cartoon Network demographic.
The film is aided by a strong 1.78:1, 1080p transfer that brings out the bold colors and effects well. Firebreather is rendered in above-average CGI and the Blu-ray treatment brings out the best in the animation. An active Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix blasts out the hyper soundtrack. Extras: a deleted scene, 2D animation test, animatics and a brief segment on the visual development.
Much familiarity can be found here, but I still think Firebreather is a winner with the young crowd. Again, I am grateful the lady/dragon copulation scene was left out. (Possibly it's in the Japanese version?)
Not Guilty. Here's an Altoid.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scene