Review: FireBreather DVD

STUDIO: Cartoon Network/Warner | DIRECTOR: Peter Chung | VOICE CAST: Jesse Head, Dana Delany, Kevin Michael Richards, Josh Keaton
3/22/11 | PRICE: DVD $19.97, Blu-ray $28.99
2-D animation test, deleted scene, animatics and visual development sequences
NR | 68 min. | Animated fantasy | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

FireBreather is the first original CGI movie by Cartoon Network — it premiered on the channel November 2010 — and it’s a wholly acceptable and competent production … for being an original CGI movie by Cartoon Network.

Firebreather movie scene

Duncan and his mom keep it in the family in FireBreather.

Based on a comic series by Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn, FireBreather tells the tale of 16-year-old Duncan (Jesse Head, So Little Time), who’s forced to deal with all the problems that face the new kid at school, including bright orange skin, an appetite for coal, and a possible future as the ruler of the world alongside a slew of dragons. Such is the life of the half-human/half-monster son of the most bizarre mating in animated movie history.

Hmmm … it’s not that bizarre, I guess, for a comic book, though I’m glad the long-ago coupling between Duncan’s human mother (Dana Delany, Light Sleeper) and 100-foot-tall, dragon-like father Belloc (Kevin Michael Richardson, TV’s The Cleveland Show) is only implied and not depicted on screen. That wouldn’t work for the FireBreather’s target young teen audience, who will enjoy this short fantasy/adventure, though they won’t easily confuse it with the sizable CGI productions that continue to sweep through multiplexes.

The animation in FireBreather is big, blocky and brightly colored — sort of like the 16-bit animation you saw in late-1990s arcade videogames — which is fine for, again, a modestly budgeted TV feature produced by Cartoon Network. It’s certainly appropriate for the story, which is also a little clunky and not one that demands the kind of CGI “realism” we’re seeing more and more on the big screen. Still, the obvious effort that FireBreather‘s creators put into their film goes a long way.

The bonus features on the DVD are respectable and, with the exception of one deleted scene, revolve around the movie’s animation and visual style. Included are early renderings of various FireBreather characters as well as 2D animations, stills and storyboards from a handful of scenes.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.