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Firebreather (Blu-ray Review)

Firebreather is the latest offering from Cartoon Network.  It was released as a one-shot film with the potential for a spin-off series.  It was very successful and upon it’s release it garnered 3.7 million viewers.  Those are some very impressive numbers considering it was just one film and the fact that it’s cable television.  Cartoon Network has now given us Firebreather on Blu-ray.   Read and find out if Firebreather made the successful transition to Blu-ray or just went down in flames. 

Film 

Duncan is a typical 16 year old high school teenager.  He’s got a mom that bugs him to no end, has trouble making friends, and oh yeah, he’s half human and half dragon monster.  Pretty cool, huh?  You see, Duncan is half human and half “Kaiju.”  The Kaiju are a powerful race of monsters who were defeated by the humans 16 years prior and are now forced to live underground.  This does not bode well for young Duncan, because his father is a 120 foot tall monster who just happens to be the supreme leader of all the monsters.   His mom is about 120 pounds.  There’s a discrepancy there if you haven’t noticed.

Gauging Firebreather was initially a tricky one, because I had seen the cover art to the Blu-ray and thought the artwork looked too blocky.  It actually reminded me of those video games that Interplay used to put out that had whacky CGI renderings on the cover.  Once I popped the disc in all was forgotten.  For being a Cartoon Network production, they spared no expense and the content transcends age groups.  The story is simple enough, because we have already seen it many times before.  Boy tries to fit in at school. Boy has problems at home with an “absent” father.  Mom doesn’t understand.  Few friends.  There’s a dream girl.  The dream girl is dating the school bully.  A prom.  Etc.  Firebreather does not try to reinvent the wheel at all.  What it does do is spin the heck out of it.

Firebreather runs a brisk 69 minutes, but the action, adventures, and hijinx all move along at a brisk pace.  I was completely engrossed and entertained.  Firebreather’s origins came from the source material produced by Image Comics.   I have not read any of the comic books, so I can’t comment on whether it’s a faithful interpretation or not.  What does add a certain “gravitas” to Firebreather material isn’t the basic storyline, but the technique in execution.  Peter Chung (Aeon Flux, Animatrix, Dark Fury) is on board as director, storyboard artist, etc., and lends his visual flair for style to Firebreather, but one could say that it’s the most non-Peter Chung work he’s ever done.  I think the CGI masks this up.  Chung usually works in the 2D realm.

In the end , Firebreather can be considered a coming of age tale spun on its head.  Will Duncan stay and represent humanity or will he use his powers and help his father reclaim the planet?  Firebreather is rated PG for violence, but I would not recommend this for the ultra young toddlers or less than 5 year old crowd.  There are some very intense sequences and the monsters can be considered “scary looking.”  That’s my youth disclaimer for today.  For everyone else Firebreather will rock your socks off!   Crank it up!

Video 

Firebreather is presented in 1080p 16X9 1.78:1.  Firebreather looks great!  The colors leap off the screen during the night time sequences and during “fire breathing” sequences.  I did not detect any DNR, or imperfections to the digital source.  I give it just under a perfect score in the video department, because during some day light sequences certain colors that you would expect to “pop out” do not.  Other than that minor nitpick, Firebreather looks wonderful!

Audio 

Firebreather is presented in TrueHD 5.1.  This is an excellent audio track!  The bass really grumbles, and the house shakes when Duncan’s father and the monsters speak.  They really packed in the LFE channel with loving goodness.  There are countless effects zooming about that are all distinguishable from each other.  Dialogue is crisp and clean, and the rear channels get an added workout with ships and gunfire zipping past. Again, I am impressed that Cartoon Network took the time and effort to create the detailed soundscape for Firebreather.

Special Features 

The pickings are slim on Firebreather, but that’s okay.  What they do offer is neat and tidy.  There’s a deleted scene, animation tests, comic book comparisons, and a few other items.  The one drawback is that they are really short.  Plentiful, but short.  Take that as you will.  I will say that the best feature included is a promotional short that Peter Chung directed when Firebreather was originally envisioned as a traditional 2D cartoon.  They obviously went with CGI in the end, but the 2D test is pretty cool.  Maybe a future episode in 2D down the road?   That would rock.

  • Deleted Scene
  • 2D Animation Test
  • Animatics
  • Visual Development

Final Thoughts 

Firebreather was pretty cool.  Being a fan of traditional and non-traditional techniques helped, but in the end Fire Breather is just downright likable, funny, and an all around good time.  Other than the special features needing to be beefed up a bit, Firebreather on Blu-ray is a definite must buy in this reviewer’s opinion.  Flame on!

Pre-order Firebreather on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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