‘Firestarter’ is a disaster with four warnings – and fans deserve an apology

Do we really need a new shot of king steven1980’s novel fire starter? The 1984 film starring Drew Barrymore was reasonably compelling in the way that most of King’s early films were, if not exceptional or memorable. (Aside from the very unfortunate “red face” of George C. Scott as a man who was beaten up by the Native American government, which is admirable!) Some may remember that John Carpenter was originally willing to direct that First Amendment to King’s story about a young girl fond of fireworks with a Psychological movement, however was excluded from the project due to poor performance thing. (The work eventually went to Mark L. Lister.)

So, good news first: You can look at Carpenter’s inclusion in this version—he composed an original tune, along with his sons Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davis—as a kind of remorse for his earlier act of blasphemy. As for the bad news? See: rest of the movie.

The story is still the same. Andy McGee (Zac Efron) and his wife, Vicki (Sydney Lemon), met in college as test subjects in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clinical trial that turned out to be a government trial of a mind-altering chemical compound. (The managing agency, a mysterious operation known as “The Store,” appears in a few of King’s works.) As a result, Andy and Vicky both have telekinesis and telepathy abilities, which they pass on to their daughter Charlie (Ryan newcomer Keira Armstrong). As the title suggests, she can also use her brain to start fires.

The agency sends John Rainbird (fortunately this time played by Native American actor Michael Gray) to capture Charlie and kill Vicky in the process. father and daughter run away; They hardly last a day before he is captured. But the duo have a “psychological relationship,” so Charlie, on a mission to save her father, and spends about a minute and a half of screen time in the woods like some sort of Skywalker without Yoda, trains herself to properly use her firepower. Then you go get it.

fire starter It starts off strong enough — there’s an inspiring opening credit sequence of creepy video footage from the experience, some thoughtful questions about parental responsibility (do they have Charlie hiding her power, or learning how to use it?), and fuel free An aspect of the family’s down-and-out lifestyle. From there, however, director Keith Thomas and screenwriter Scott Thames tear up much of the original narrative, and most of its bets. Blumhouse’s lean, usually functional style makes the picture look half-baked—and the big climax, which has to go gangsta-like, looks like it was shot at someone’s father’s factory on a three-day weekend.

Efron is very good, calmly present and downplaying his role. Armstrong does her best in an often impossible role. Courtwood Smith, as the original administrator of the estate, does better; Veteran character actor (Robocop, Dead Poets Society) seems to understand his sightings require the dial to be set to “completely loose” at all times. As for Gloria Robin, rated the most evil of all, she’s saddled with the most descriptive dialogue — including the second most groaning sentence, “You’re a real-life superhero” — and she does it poorly. (The most groaning line, for those following the events, is Charlie’s “Liar Liar, Pants Burning” climax) The implications are elusive and unconvincing. Emotional investing is nothing. Its runtime is only 94 minutes, which proves that there may, in fact, be a higher merciful force out there. Still a disaster with four warnings.