“A young girl tries to understand how she mysteriously gained the power to set things on fire with her mind.”

Director: Keith Thomas
Writers: Scott Teems, Stephen King (Based Off Book)
Staring: Zac Efron, Gloria Reuben, Ryan Kierra Armstrong
Release Date: May 13, 2022

I said in my trailer reaction to Firestarter (2022) that I was going to skip this viewing experience. I am sad to report that I broke my word. I watched Firestarter, and I regret everything.

Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is the young daughter of Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) and she has extraordinary abilities. When Charlie becomes stressed, angry or embarrassed, she is able to conjure and manipulate fire, which makes her a desired commodity for certain shady individuals. Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben) is the head of what appears to be a shady government observation who has been dealing with various individuals with extraordinary abilities, and this group’s fingers go all the way back with the Andy and Vicky were college kids. The pair, before they were a couple, were approached and manipulated by this cohort, so they understand the danger.

The Peacock original follows the tale of Andy trying to tutor and watch over Charlie after their domestic life is uprooted. With no home to return to, and no one to really trust, Andy will do anything to keep his daughter safe. But the question is, does she really need protecting.

Firestarter is a remake of a 1984 movie that starred an incredibly young Drew Barrymore, and it was not well received at all. There was room to improve upon it. But guess what, this most recent iteration of Firestarter fizzles out faster than you could light a match.

What a horrendous movie. Just gross.

The first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb with this movie is the poor screenplay. The villainous characters are shallower than a kiddy pool with no water in it, and the character arc of Charlie is as stagnated and confusing as a willowing apartment staircase. Every step of the Charlie’s journey is like a two-footed jump from one step to the next. There is no fluidity, no sense of subtle character growth. Also, one of the most absurd things about Firestarter is that Charlie is able to reconcile with a character that inflicts true emotional-scarring on her and her family. Somehow, Charlie can forget what happened a mere 24-48 hours earlier.

Now let’s have a talk about Zac Efron. What was the last good movie that he was in?

This year he has Firestarter and Gold (2022), neither of which are well received by audience or critics. In 2019 he had the disappointing The Beach Bum and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile. 2017 is the last time Efron had a critical and commercial life with The Greatest Showman (2017) and The Disaster Artist (2017). The last time he was relevant was when he had the “dad body” debate for his Netflix show. I think it was Netflix.

Stephen King adaptions are a fickle thing, but when they are done right, they are worth the watch. I am excited for the new Salem’s Lot that is coming out later this year, seeing how that is easily a top three King book I have read. Doctor Sleep (2019) was genuinely good, as were It (2017) and Gerald’s Game (2017).. The crazy thing about King adaptations is that the movies are often a bit better when they deviate from the book plot. The Shining (1980) is the best example of this. I don’t know how Firestarter the movie (remake) fairs against the original book, but if the book is anything like the movie, then it may be an eventual pass for me on the literature front.

A random tib-bit about this movie, and maybe Firestarter‘s best aspect, is that the score is very similar to Halloween (1978). It has the same synth vibes. And would you believe that John Carpenter is one of three that are credited working on the music. I had to click on his name on IMDB to make sure that it was the same John Carpenter. It is. That was a shocker.

If you do want to check out Firestarter, it is now streaming on Peacock.

STANKO RATING: F (1.0/5 Stars)

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