Film and Music Electronic Magazine

A Fine, But Unremarkable Remake

The premise of Firestarter is pretty basic: a little girl with the power of pyrokinesis is on the run from the people who created her. The biggest difference between the 2022 version and the original 1984 film is that the story is told chronologically, rather than slipping between current events and flashbacks.

Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is a little girl with a very unique power: she can start fires with her mind. Not just start fires, but throw fireballs. She also has psychokinetic powers as well (though this is not explored much; after all, the movie is called Firestarter). Her parents, Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon), were test subjects for an experimental drug while they were in college. It gave them both psychokinetic powers. Vicky doesn’t use hers anymore; whether the powers are underdeveloped or Vicky herself chooses not to use them isn’t specified. Andy, however, uses his powers regularly. He can “push” people into doing what he tells them, like shooting someone or “forgetting” to breathe. However, Andy’s powers are taking their toll on him. He bleeds from his eyeballs when he uses them. Vicky wants to teach Charlie how to use her powers so she won’t be scared of them and can control them, but Andy is worried that it will cause her pain like he has, and he teaches Charlie to bottle up her powers, put them away.


Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben) is the new guard at The Shop, the secret government facility that gave Andy and Vicky their superpowers, which they then passed on to their daughter. She seeks the help of Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), a former employee and test subject of The Shop, to capture Charlie and bring her back to The Shop – presumably so they can test her and eventually turn her into a weapon. Rainbird does go after them, killing Vicky in the process. Andy and Charlie escape, but he catches up with them again, this time at a farmhouse. It is here that Rainbird captures Andy, but Charlie escapes into the woods. Soldiers from The Shop show up and take both Andy and Rainbird into custody. Charlie must then go save her dad.

There were no surprises in Firestarter. The biggest change was the format of the story. The original film starts with Charlie and Andy on the run, and reveals what brought them there in flashbacks. In this version, the events are linear. But there was no twist; nothing shocking happened. Even if you never read the Stephen King novel or watched the 1984 version of the film, the movie is pretty boilerplate. It goes exactly where you expect it to go.

RELATED: John Carpenter’s ‘Firestarter’ Soundtrack Coming to Digital and Vinyl

The biggest problem with Firestarter was that there was some character developments that felt a little uneven. Charlie, while alone in the forest for a few hours, uses this time to train herself on how to use and control her powers all on her own. This is shown in a few scenes, spanning less than a minute of screentime, and came across as highly suspicious. There were also some changes to Rainbird from the original film that felt inconsistent. I won’t spoil it for those of you who are going in completely blind, but even if you are not familiar with the previous incarnations, Rainbird’s depiction felt off at the end.

I have not read the King novel, but this film feels less like an adaptation of the novel and more like a remake of the feature film. I swear, there were some lines of dialogue that were ripped from the 1984 film for this one. This film was tightened up from the original, getting rid of a good half-hour of the runtime, which was necessary. The 2022 version also upped the gore content – just a little bit, enough to justify the R rating it received. And of course, the score by John and Cody Carpenter, simply can’t be beat.

Ryan Kiera Armstrong was good in the role of Charlie, but it is hard to hold a candle to Drew Barrymore. She is a little older than Barrymore was when she tackled this role, and she looks it. Drew had a baby face that made her look a couple years younger, while Armstrong is a little too tall, a little too slender, to hold the same youthful innocence that Barrymore had. Michael Greyeyes was at once both more threatening than George C. Scott was in the same role, and less. He was more of the strong, silent type than Scott’s chatty version of the character.

I was honestly expecting something much worse. The film was under-advertised, buried on Peacock, and there were no critics screenings – all things that happen when a studio has no faith in a project. However, It wasn’t bad. I wasn’t crazy about the changes that were made from the original film, but it was competently put together and generally well-acted. I think this would be best enjoyed by someone who had never seen the original 1984 film; that way, you won’t be constantly comparing the two in your head.

Rating: B-

Read Next

About The Author

Source link