In a new adaptation of STEPHEN KING’s classic thriller from the producers of The Invisible Man, a girl with extraordinary pyrokinetic powers fights to protect her family and herself from sinister forces that seek to capture and control her.
Embrace your weirdness and otherness. We’re all a tad weird and have our freakish habits and abilities. That said, if you’re not hurting anyone or overstepping any boundaries, you shouldn’t be shamed or bullied. Whether you have an obsession with Legos and can create complex works of art, or have an eidetic memory and get your Sheldon Cooper on, embrace it. That thing that makes you stand out in a crowd or sets you apart from others is what makes you special and may just make you famous. In other words, enjoy being authentically you.
“Actually, it feels kind of good.”
Flame on! Wait, wrong person. However, we should be calling Professor X because this feels like the beginning stages of some kind of Phoenix saga. Directed by Keith Thomas this remake of the 1980s cult classic of the same name, Firestarter feels more superhero origin than horror film. Both are based of course on the bestselling novel by the narrator of nightmares, Stephen King, this go-around falls terribly short of its intended goal. What is supposed to be a thrilling and sophisticated sci-fi horror, becomes more of a drama than anything else with small doses of horror and few thrills. It feels as if it belongs in a dark corner of the MCU. While that sounds intriguing, it’s not what Firestarter is. If the film was an original and not based on beloved source material, it would be a far better story.
Where the original failed in certain regards, this contemporary version set out to rectify everything it could. It allows for Charlie to appear more as a kid by having an actual childhood. Andy and Vicky feel somewhat more like an actual couple, so the family dynamic helps it all appear more organic. We see how Andy earns a living as well as the issues they have at home dealing with their abilities. Initially, the stakes feel higher than ever. Not only has DSI been after them for years forcing them to stay off the grid, but they may have compromised themselves within their community. Once Andy and his family feel that they need to get out of town and relocate once again, you’d expect the story to ramp up—think again. The film tends to only get flame-heavy and destructive in small spurts. One moment the story looks like it may take a dark and interesting turn, then it decides to flip it back around and head for the light. Also, you’d think that when running for your life, you’d put some pep in your step but what is supposed to be a life or death situation only feels like a minor inconvenience. There are a few aspects that are very similar to its predecessor but a great of minor changes. The film had tiny bursts of major intrigue but ultimately couldn’t decide whether it wanted to follow in previous footsteps or make its own path. One of the biggest changes is the relationship between Charlie and Rainbird, it’s not there and is one of the most frustrating fumbles. And don’t get me started on the ending.
Even so, it does have positive messaging of embracing who you are and champions being different. That’s always a plus. Part of me thinks, or wants to believe, the film will be better on a second watch. Now that I know that they are going in a completely different direction, perhaps it can be appreciated differently because it’s perfectly and maybe purposely set up for a sequel. What won’t let you down is the score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. Also, the film looks and sounds great. I just hope that if there is a sequel, it better be on the verge of a pyro-apocalypse. Because woefully, we got a fraction of the flames for double the price. However, it does hint a Charlie possibly being OP. Anyway, as a horror fan, I say watch it because we’ve definitely watched worse. It is by no means the worst movie, it’s sadly just not great. Its rewatchability is low.
Pace & Pop
The pacing of the film felt a bit off. It moves abundantly slower than the original. They turned what was originally a thriller into sci-fi horror. However, Andy and his family still have agents after them—so it’s not the slight genre change. The issue is that there is no real sense of urgency. This results in very minuscule thrills and nothing truly terrifying. What popped for me was the score. As long as John Carpenter composes the music, no film is a complete loss. Now with the addition of his son, Cody following in his father’s footsteps, that legacy will live on.
Characters & Chemistry
Starring: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Michael Greyeyes, Gloria Reuben, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley
There isn’t any particular performance that rivals the rest. While I enjoyed the performance of Ryan Kiera Strong as Charlie, the script hindered her from being able to completely go full human torch. She also isn’t awarded a great amount of individual focus. Zac Efron will surely be talked about as he is now playing a father and it feels weird. But many will dig the daddy vibes. Nonetheless, the Andy that was written for him is very empty and unsure of himself. The bond we were familiar with is now nonexistent. He’s not incredibly likable, but I did enjoy him half a tad more backstory and how they modernized their family.
Firestarter releases in theaters and will also begin streaming on Peacock on May 13, 2022. Stay safe and enjoy.
Runtime: 1h 34m
Director: Keith Thomas
Writer: Scott Teems
Based on: Novel by Stephen King
Producers: Jason Blum, Akiva Goldsman
Executive Producers: Ryan Turek, Scott Teems, Martha de Laurentiis
Composers: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies
Firestarter feels more superhero origin than horror film.
Observing the human race since 1988.