Back in 1984, director Mark L Lester released Firestarter, a mildly successful horror film based on the brilliant novel by genius Stephen King starring Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Martin Sheen and George C Scott. Its a film I’ve always enjoyed and had a soft spot for for the last 28 years.
Now, because all the films we enjoyed as kids seem to be in need of an update according to Hollywood, we are ‘gifted’ with this remake.
This story of a young girl (Charlie) with the power to create fire with her mind, the mind altering lab tests her parents took part in before she was born, the shady government agency trying to kidnap her for their own nefarious reasons, the struggles of her father (Andy, who has a little party trick of his own – the ability to ‘push’ people to do as he wishes) to protect her at all costs, and her work to learn how to control her unwieldy power, is a good one – compelling and nerve-jangling… in the right hands.
So what went wrong? Firstly, every change made from the book and from the original film add nothing to the narrative and in many ways seriously hurt this film. The relationship between father and daughter is not as well fleshed out, the farmhouse scene is a complete mess in the 2022 version whereas in 1984 it was a set-piece, the relationship between Charlie and Rainbird makes much more sense in the original and is fraught with tension – totally missing in the remake, the agency is better explained in the original, giving mind altering drugs to college kids in the 70s makes sense but these days not so much, the finale of the original is powerful and tear-jerking but in 2022 its beyond ridiculous with an alliance formed that makes absolutely no sense and is almost offensive after what we have seen one of the parties do.
In this version, Andy is played by Zach Efron, Charlie by Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and both actors do the best with what they are given, Efron with somewhat more success as he manages to make his thinly drawn character someone almost resembling an actual person; but his character is a walking contradiction whose supposed ‘life lessons’ are thrown out the window in the end which makes the whole thing feel pointless. Also pointless in this version is the hideous death of a cat (which we left the theatre during – we didn’t want to see it) – when will film-makers learn that audiences don’t like to see animals hurt???
This isn’t a terrible film but it is very far from good and is wholly un-needed. Upon further research I discovered that this was written by Scott Teems, the writer behind the worst film of last year – Halloween Kills. If last years rubbish weren’t enough, than this film gives me ample reason to avoid his work from now on.
Pointless, ugly, and inferior to the original in every way; don’t bother.
I’ve seen the movie but I didn’t read the book. Thanks for the telling that.