Protected by her parents (Efron and Lemmon), Charlie (Armstrong) has lived her childhood on the run and has kept her extraordinary pyrokinetic powers in check. But now that she’s turning 11, the flames are harder to control, and sinister forces are seeking to capture her. Charlie must learn to embrace the fire from within and fight to control it in order to protect her family and freedom.
For in-depth thoughts on Firestarter, please see my colleague Dom Fisher’s review from its original theatrical release here.
Firestarter arrives on Blu-Ray courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment with a stellar AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1. The film has a natural color palette that expertly showcases the dazzling flames that are integral to the story. There are not that many chances for vibrant colors to pop off the screen outside of these moments, but the natural majesty of the world never fails to impress. Black levels are appropriately deep and give way to a stark amount of detail in shadows. The bright whites do not fall victim to any blooming in this presentation. Skin tones appear very natural across the entire cast with even the most minor facial details on display. The level of detail in this presentation remains as strong as ever, as all of the subtle aspects of the costumes and production design are razor sharp. There are no egregious instances of aliasing or compression artifacts detectable here. This Blu-Ray is simply stunning as Universal continues its steady work releasing quality transfers.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is extremely engaging, and it never fails to deliver something truly memorable. The soundscape on display here is very rich with a nuanced design from beginning to end. This film has many great character-based moments, but the film really comes alive when Charlie is pushed to her limits and scenes pack a bigger punch than you might imagine. The numerous instances of infernos and explosions in the film packs a punch that will shake you to the core. The soundtrack and score hits really hard without being too overwhelming to the competing elements. Dialogue comes through clearly with none of the information feeling lost to the music in the film or the sound effects. All of the effects have a nice sense of direction within the mix with noises such as a water sprinkler really springing to life. The movie uses environmental sounds to great effect, and the track retains strong detail even in the more chaotic developments. The track is a knockout from start to finish.
- Audio Commentary: Director Keith Thomas delivers a sturdy commentary track in which he discusses his unusual path to filmmaking, how they utilized practical effects when possible, his motivations for certain developments in the film, directing his young star and more. Thomas is a wealth of information when it comes to the technical side of filmmaking as he talks about specific lenses used during production, the editing process and more.
- Alternate Ending: A nearly three-minute alternate ending which follows the theatrical pretty closely only with a bit less of an optimistic slant.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes: Seven scenes totaling 20 minutes of unused material is provided here including an extended look at Andy’s Lot Six nightmare, Charlie out in the woods and searching for Andy, Charlie counting down to chaos and more. There are some scenes that probably would have benefitted the film if included.
- Gag Reel: A minute-long collection of flubbed lines, silly moments, malfunctioning props and more.
- A Kinetic Energy: A six-minute piece in which the cast and creative team discuss the motivations behind bringing this story back to the screen, finding the right performers for these characters, subverting audience expectations, the direction of Keith Thomas and more.
- Spark A Fire: A four-minute look at the themes of the source material and why the creative team thought it was ripe for a new adaptation.
- Igniting Firestarter: A nearly four-minute exploration of the practical and visual effects implemented in the film.
- Power Struggle: A nearly four-minute look at the physical stunts in the film and specifically the fight scene between Rainbird and Vicky.
Firestarter is a misguided take on a source material that had room for improvement. The biggest sin this film commits is just not being particularly thrilling, let alone in any way remotely scary. There are individual moments that are somewhat interesting, but the narrative takes too many unfulfilling detours to give it a pass. The performances are pretty solid, but the script never really gives them anything of substance to work with. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray with a top-notch A/V presentation and an impressive amount of special features. If you do happen to like this film, this release should please you.
Firestarter will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 28, 2022. The film is currently available on Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.