tek's rating:

Firebreather, on Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network; IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

This movie is based on a comic book, which I've never read, but after seeing the movie, I'd definitely like to check it out sometime. There's also a possibility the movie might lead to a TV series, which I think could be awesome. But I don't know if that'll happen or not, at this point. Anyway, it was a lot better than I expected. I loved the animation, and the action sequences were pretty cool, and the writing and acting were quite good. It was directed by Peter Chung (Aeon Flux, Reign: The Conqueror), and had several actors whose work I've enjoyed in other animated things (as well as some live-action), including Dana Delany, Kevin Michael Richardson, Nicole Sullivan, and Dante Basco (kind of funny to see him in a movie where someone else is the firebreather, after his work in Avatar: The Last Airbender and American Dragon: Jake Long). The story could easily have been kinda cheesy, but it actually was done really well, I thought. Probably not something that should be seen by little kids (it could be kind of scary possibly, as well as having a bit of mild swearing and vaguely adult themes).

So, there's this 16-year-old kid named Duncan Rosenblatt, who lives with his mother, Margaret. Duncan's starting at a new school, and is concerned that he won't make friends, because... he's different. The thing is, his father (whom he has never met, I guess), is Belloc, a giant dragon who is king of the kaiju (which is Japanese for "monsters," though aside from that there's not much in the movie that seems to be related to Japan). Duncan has orange skin, though I found it odd that right after complaining about that in the first scene, as soon as he left the house his skin looked normal, with no explanation. (Though it was explained later.) But I'm getting ahead of myself. Um, he's also incredibly strong, fast, and agile. And he eats charcoal, though he doesn't actually start breathing fire til later in the movie.

I should say there's some history to the world in which the story takes place, which is never adequately explored. It's not clear to me exactly how Margaret came to fall in love with Belloc, though towards the end I get the sense that she either currently or in the past worked with a group called MEGTAF (what that stands for is never mentioned, as far as I could tell). Mostly they seem to be a military group that exist to fight kaiju, though apparently kaiju haven't been around for some time now. (I'm a bit confused on this point; Belloc says they've become mythical to humans, which suggests they've been in hiding for a very long time. But there's also evidence that people are aware of them being real, especially Belloc himself. And Cartoon Network's page about the movie says that Margaret saved the world from kaiju 16 years ago, which is never addressed in the movie that I noticed, though presumably Duncan's birth was a key aspect of the end of hostilities. Well, there were also complaints from some kaiju that Belloc forbade them to fight humans anymore.) But anyway, MEGTAF isn't all soldiers, though we only really get to know two characters from the group. One is Colonel "Blitz" Barnes, who poses as a gym teacher at Duncan's school (in the past, he was vice principal at other schools Duncan had attended). The other MEGTAF member we meet is a researcher named Dr. Patel (who we like). I think she's responsible for making Duncan's skin look normal. And stuff.

But I'm telling this all out of order. Um... on Duncan's first day at the new school, he meets a girl named Jenna. He quickly develops a crush on her, though there is a pack of bullies, the leader of whom, Troy, used to date her. She doesn't like him any more, but he's still into her. So he doesn't want Duncan getting close to her. And... well, he's a bully, so just in general he and his crew want to beat Duncan up, though of course he's more than a match for them... except that he promised his mother not to get into any fights. Also at one point, the funds for the homecoming dance gets stolen from Jenna's locker, and everyone blames her (except Duncan). So she went from being the most popular girl to the most hated. Duncan also befriends a girl named Isabel, who is majorly interested in kaiju; and Ken, who is basically an outcast (and the main object of Troy's bullying), who suspects his own often absent father is a spy. Or something. Anyway, Ken is clearly into Isabel, a fact of which she is totally oblivious. She, meanwhile, is into Duncan, of which he seems pretty oblivious. I was kinda torn between feeling bad for Isabel having to watch Duncan try to get closer to Jenna, and feeling bad for Ken watching Isabel try to get close to Duncan. Anyway, the whole love quadrangle was probably better done here than that sort of thing usually is in stuff like this.

Anyway, things get even more complicated for Duncan when Belloc shows up for the first time in his life, takes him to his underground lair, and declares that Duncan is his heir. The other kaiju (mainly Astaroth and Abbadon) really don't like this, so of course they want to kill Duncan. Duncan, meanwhile, isn't even interested in being the next king of the kaiju, and certainly wants no part in his father's plan to renew the war against humanity. Still, Barnes and the many soldiers, tanks, and jets he commands are more than happy to attack Belloc and any other kaiju they find. And even if Duncan doesn't like his father, he doesn't want him getting killed. In fact, he doesn't want anyone getting killed, even Astaroth and Abbadon. (And Belloc isn't happy that his son is suppressing his natural killer instincts.)

Well, I don't want to give anything more away about the plot. But I really liked how neatly the different plot points meshed. I liked the humor (particularly when Margaret brought up something it's only natural to wonder about: the question of how Duncan's conception worked; and of course the fact that Duncan himself didn't want to hear about it, even if I found it a bit disappointing that we didn't get to actually hear an explanation). I liked all the characters. I already said I liked the animation, the action, the overall story... everything. Though there are also various things that seem unresolved, so I really do hope to see the story continued, eventually. And... I guess that's all I can say for now.

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