Infamously risky but rewarding animator Peter Chung has finally made a film for everyone in Firebreather. If his new all-CGI movie is a hit on Cartoon Network, the Aeon Flux creator hopes it will reassure Hollywood that the time is right to pull the trigger on other adult-oriented animated movies.
“If and when Firebreather becomes accepted, it will open up the possibilities,” the Korea-born but California-based Chung told Wired.com by phone. “I do find that the studios are saying that they want to do something different, but no one really wants to be the first to take the big risk.”
A genre-busting mash of sci-fi, Kaiju fantasy and teen soap along the lines of Genndy Tartakovksy’s similarly brilliant Sym-Bionic Titan, Firebreather is a great test of Chung’s double-edged talent.
Based on Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn’s short-lived comic of the same name, Firebreather’s teen protagonist, Duncan, is the offspring of a mild-mannered human mother, Margaret, and the beastly Belloc, a 60,000-pound dragon better known to a shocked and awed Earth as the King of Monsters.
Margaret and Belloc’s carnal knowledge is something Duncan doesn’t want details on, as one hilarious scene illustrates, but the cross-species sexual union fits perfectly with Chung’s previous adult-oriented explorations in daring animated series like Aeon Flux and Reign: The Conqueror, as well as Ralph Bakshi’s cult fantasy film Fire and Ice, one of Chung’s earliest animation gigs.
Similarly, Firebreather, which debuts Wednesday on Cartoon Network, finds Chung striking a confident balance between breathtaking action sequences, ranging from parkour chases to full-scale military and supernatural warfare, and the subtle shot-blocking that infuses the film’s quieter moments with relatable psychodrama.
Not bad, considering Firebreather is Chung’s first CGI feature film, and that he had zero exposure to the comic prior to starting the project. From designing the main humanoid and demonic characters to effortlessly directing Firebreather’s incendiary action and tender relationship sequences, Chung has proven he can do it all, for any target audience.
If the show’s a hit, more Firebreather films or even a television series could follow. Wired.com picked Chung’s imaginative brain on that heated possibility, the prospects of selling risky work to conservative Hollywood and much more in the interview that unfolds in the gallery above.
PETER CHUNG @ MORPHIZM
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