An average movie featuring some decent fire-related effects and a killer soundtrack, but doesn’t present the story in a new way to warrant its existence.
Plot: Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) and her father Andy (Zac Efron) are on the run from the insidious government organization The Shop, and its savage assassin, Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes).
Review: While Firestarter was not in my top 10 Stephen King stories, it’s still an enjoyable, taut yarn that features a likeable main character and an infuriatingly pesky pair of villains in Hollister and Rainbird that you love to see bad things happen to. The ’84 adaptation that starred Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Martin Sheen and George C. Scott did a serviceable enough job of bringing the story to the big screen. Therefore, I wasn’t sure why we had to re-visit the story 38 years later, but eh, Hollywood.
First, let’s focus on the good parts. The young actress who plays Charlie in this movie was pretty good, she felt like what I imagine Charlie would be, and there were quite a few good parts with her burning things, people, creatures, etc. The rest of the cast is alright, and no one really pisses me off. The movie ran for only 94 minutes, so it went by fast enough. The film was shot well enough and featured a unique opening credit scene. Finally, the soundtrack was easily the best part of the movie and elevated more than, frankly, it deserved to – John Carpenter was one of the composers of the film, so what else would you expect?
The baffling thing about this movie, though, is why it even exists. It doesn’t present the film in any new way – Charlie and Andy are still on the run, The Shop is still after them, there’s a big climax at their facility, etc. It just doesn’t bring anything new to the table – so why even do it?
Maybe it’s to address some political correctness? The great George C. Scott played Rainbird in the original, so perhaps they were like, let’s put an Indigenous actor in that part? They also gender-swapped the Hollister character (again, don’t know why), and Zac Efron’s character at one point mentions a dying cat might be a he, she or they (because you know, cats are all into the gender-fluid nonsense), so maybe it was to scratch someone’s woke itch?
That would certainly explain things because the story doesn’t do the audience any favours. I have no idea why The Shop wants Charlie back (to kill her? To study her? To train her to win Wimbledon?), and likewise, Rainbird’s motivations are a mystery to me. In the novel, he wants to kill Charlie and watch the life leave her eyes because he feels it would give him a clue about death – in this one…yeah, he’s trying to kill her, then he’s contrite and offers to sacrifice himself to her – yeah, all over the map. They also had the mom character in the beginning, and that was interesting as she’s dead when the novel begins, but she brought nothing to the table, and her death brought a shrug to my shoulders.
Overall, I didn’t hate the movie, and it moved along well enough, but it was just kind of meh. If they brought a new take to the story or an intensity that the original film lacked, I could buy it, but this movie seems to exist simply to address some diversity issues from the first film and show how visual effects have matured in the 38 years since the original. Those are hardly reasons to rehash a story that’s already been done before and better.