I tend to be a fan of certain directors and writers, especially when it comes to animation. When I was younger, Peter Chung was likely one of the first few animation directors that I knew by name. He was the director behind the unique Aeon Flux and has also done several other projects over the years. His art style tends to be very unique as well, favoring a slight anime influence though his characters often are even more exaggerated with long limbs and skinny bodies. This film follows that style, but takes it into the realm of CGI where it originally aired on Cartoon Network. Coming into it, I knew nothing about it aside from the fact that it was based on a comic book. Walking away from it, I was pleasantly surprised by this tale of a hybrid kid coming of age in a world of high school and Kaiju although the high school half of the film was extremely cliched.
Firebreather starts off by putting its premise out there pretty bluntly, the big Kaiju war was ended when the king of the monsters fell in love with a woman and ended up having a kid. And now that kid is now turning 16 and heading to a new school where things will soon get a little bit more interesting. The biggest issue with this film is really the extremely standard high school dynamics. The main character Duncan fits into the movie new kid cliche where he is instantly the target of the bullies led by Troy, instantly catches the eye of the prettiest girl in school Jenna, and instantly befriends the two cool people who are also on the outskirts of the school’s popularity Kenny and Isabel. There also ends up being the stereotypical love triangle where Duncan wants Jenna but Jenna’s dating Troy, Isabel is interested in Duncan, and Kenny has a crush on Isabel. And the only way that all gets sorted out is when Duncan becomes popular, he gets Jenna to turn around and fall for him.
Where Firebreather does gain some interest is the mythology behind Duncan’s half-Kaiju heritage and his Kaiju puberty for lack of a better term. The film also skirts around the explanation of how a giant monster mates with a normal human through a nice and quick bit of mom humor. But as far as Duncan goes, he already has some oddities, like he eats charcoal briquettes, has orange skin, and subtle scales that he covers up with make up to look more normal. And as Duncan gets dragged into the world of the Kaiju when his father comes to crash a party and see him for the first time in sixteen years, he develops more and more Kaiju features that only come out when he’s in battle mode. His Kaiju design is quite interesting with a somewhat exposed muscle structure and a small set of horns. The fight scenes are also done well showcasing his small size combined with his speed and strength to help take down the much larger creatures. It also helped show some of his abilities earlier as he parkoured all over the school in order to escape from the bullies. The designs of all the Kaiju shown are nicely handled as well, though it seemed like there was a pointed effort to keep Duncan’s father Belloc mostly in shadows so his entire form couldn’t be seen clearly until closer to the end. He also seemed to be able to slightly shift his form when he moves from being bipedal to quadrupedal, it’s subtle but if you’re watching closely you can see that it’s more than just him standing up straight, but even the shape of his head changes slightly. The other Kaiju also have unique designs that are much more than just Godzilla-inspired creations.
The voice work is also fairly well done, none of the kids particularly stand out in a good or bad way since they don’t really have much to say outside of cliched high school dialogue. Dana Delany does a nice job as Duncan’s mother and is the most likable and humorous character. She plays off the joke about how Duncan was conceived, and she also has a great moment where she catches him sneaking out to go to a party. But instead of trying to get him to stay home, she’s just glad that he’s doing something that a normal high school kid would do by going out to a party in the first place. And when things start going down towards the end, she’s also not afraid to jump into the action head first. Kevin Michael Richardson also lends his amazingly deep voice for Belloc himself, and in a small role, Nicole Sullivan plays the government doctor to add another little bit of humor into the movie. Overall, it was a fun little movie that seemed like it had a nice set up to become an ongoing series or even a set of movies. I couldn’t find any real information on ratings or reception aside from some mediocre reviews. I thought it was far from terrible and I would have liked to have seen where this character went after the events of this film. It was a little bit of a rough start, but I liked the world that this movie created, it’s a bit of a shame that nothing else seems to have come from it. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.