Firestarter (Movie Review)

What a world it would be if everyone had some sort of psychic or kinetic power abilities to control not only the outcomes of their own lives, but that of others as well. As the 1980 Stephen King Horror novel Firestarter describes, a few characters do indeed have some very interesting psychic and kinetic abilities.

Firestarter still

In the land of film, there are now two major adaptations of this novel on the big screen. The first was released in 1984 with the main character Charlie McGee played by a not quite ten year old Drew Barrymore. She possessed a strong ability of Pyrokinesis acquired from her parents who have other kinetic abilities that were created by being part of an experiment that took place at The Shop. The second film based on Firestarter stars Ryan Kiera Armstrong (It Chapter II 2019, The Tomorrow War 2021) as the young girl Charlie McGee. This version was just released on May 13, 2022 through Universal Pictures in theaters and streaming only on Peacock.

Directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil 2019) and written by Scott Teems (The Quarry 2020, Halloween Kills 2021), although there are quite a few minor to even major differences between the 2022 film adaptation of Firestarter, and the 1984 film version, they both can be appreciated for their own specialties. The 1984 version definitely seems to stick more to the original plot line of the book, and was overall a great adaptation.

Firestarter still

Looking back, watching the 1984 film today, you can definitely see the 1980s vibe that was accepted then, but not necessarily today. Interestingly enough, today’s culture denounces some normalcy of that ’80s era, but as you will see in this new adaptation, they can also throw in some violent scenes that perhaps would not fly back then. Times change, but this new adaptation can be enjoyable film in the Horror genre with an interesting plot portrayal. As long as you do not go into it with high expectations that the book plot details are going to be well represented, then satisfaction can be obtained.

Remakes in today’s world in general from treasured ’80s films are a bit of a challenge because they were made so well back then despite even if you want to argue for lack of today’s technology. On one hand, it is positive to remake these types of films to reel in a much younger audience. On the other hand, those who have the nostalgia of the original time, it is a bit more challenging to get their attention with the new adaptations. In the case of 2022’s Firestarter, it does fulfill the purpose of the original while being its own entity in some regard.

The basic premise of the new adaptation is a family with special powers is on the run. Why? Because they are trying to escape being put back in the clutches of those who are just interested in exploiting their psychic and kinetic powers. The parents are Andy played by Zac Efron (17 Again 2009, The Greatest Showman 2017) and Vicky played by Sydney Lemmon (Helstorm series, Fear the Walking Dead series). Both carry their roles throughout their times in the film very well, and the audience can definitely form a bond with their well being. For the daughter, Charlie, who as mentioned is played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong, has some very large shoes to fill from her predecessor Drew Barrymore…but she accomplishes the charm and emotions quite well.

Firestarter still

In an overview of the new adaptation of Firestarter, as well as the old, there is a bit of a lack of a solid ending, or at least one that can be of a predictable outcome. This can be good or bad depending on how it is interpreted. Both films end very differently from each other, but again, this is really just an individual experience on how that affects the build up prior.

There is a solid bond created throughout the new adaptation; struggles of not fitting in as well as struggles of sheer survival, along with some moderately graphic surprises. This gives the audience a well-rounded experience that is satisfying in its own right, but also makes you want to go back and explore the older version as well. All aspects considered, Cryptic Rock gives 2022’s adaptation of Firestarter 4 out of 5 stars. 

Universal Pictures

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