Genre: CG Animation
Director: Laurent Zeitoun and Theodore Ty
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Kenneth Branagh, William Shatner, Laurie Holden, Wilex Ly, Ryan W. Garcia, Mara Junot, Scott Humphrey
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 10 March 2022
Synopsis: Ever since she was a child, Georgia Nolan (Olivia Cooke) has had only one dream: to become a fireman, like her father once was. Unfortunately, in New York City in 1932, women are not allowed to practice this profession. When the city's firemen disappear one by one in mysterious fires that burn down the Broadway Theatres to the ground, Georgia sees a golden opportunity. She disguises herself as "Joe", an awkward young man, and joins the team of improvised firemen in charge of stopping the arsonist. Georgia must preserve her false identity at all costs, especially since her father will be in charge of this high-risk investigation.
L’Atelier Animation, the French-Canadian outfit which brought you Ballerina in 2016 is back with yet another female-centric animation titled Fireheart.
Georgia Nolan (Olivia Cooke) is a gutsy sixteen-year-old who dreams of following the footsteps of her once NYFD firefighter father, Shawn (Kenneth Branagh) and becomes the world’s first ever woman-fire fighter. But times were kind of different back in 1930’s New York and thus Georgia has to learn to be in the tailor business liked her now firefighter-turned-tailor father.
But when a mysterious arsonist starts burning down Broadway theatres and with firefighters going missing, Shawn is persuaded by the Mayor to return to the NYFD. Upon learning about it, Georgia decides to disguise herself as a man named Joe and join a bunch of equally fumbling young firefighters to fight alongside Shawn against the arsonist.
Unlike Paw Patrol: The Movie which boasts talking puppies, employing high tech weaponry and vehicles to save lives, Fireheart stays relatively “grounded” or in this case, old-school is more politically-correct to describe it. In fact when you mentioned old-school, it even plays like an extended episode of Scooby-Doo, Where are you? where a supernatural villain is actually a human in disguise.
Since the subject of female empowerment is discussed actively in recent times, Fireheart touches on everything from sexism to adoption with most of it centering on Georgia’s unhappiness with society and her father’s unwillingness to accept woman as part of firefighting. Predictability, the father-and-daughter bond and acceptance of each other goes up to another level as the story proceeds. No spoilers we promised.
Despite the number of heavy themes involved, the animation is more concerned with comedy and funny gags which makes things easier to swallow for the kids for example, Georgia’s creative means of creating her moustache to the antics of her fellow firefighters, Jin who frequently suffers from fainting spells and Ricardo who always chicken out at the wrong time. There’s also plenty of hair-raising chases around vintage New York city, an intense mysterious villain lurking around and Georgia’s cute dog tagging along so no worries if the young boys are going to get bored over this female-centric animation.
The animation on the whole is colourful and delightful though lacking the intricate details seen in an average Pixar or Disney production. Still, L’Atelier Animation did more than a decent job creating the entire 1930’s aesthetic of vintage New York. Definitely love that vintage fire engine. Even with the animation suffering from a weak, undefined villainous character (reminds one of Zootopia), Olivia Cooke and Kenneth Branagh provide solid voice-acting throughout. Though familiar, Fireheart is more than engaging from start to finish.
(Both charming and unoffensive, Fireheart had a burning ambition to tell the girls not to give up on their dreams!)
Review by Linus Tee