<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 4, 2022



‘FIRESTARTER’ is a Stephen King hit novel in 1980 that was first filmed in 1984. 

It’s about a little girl, Charlie, who has the power to induce fire or pyrokinesis, as played by Drew Barrymore who just came then from the success of Spielberg’s “E. T.” 

Her dad, Andy, was played by David Keith, who just came from the hit “An Officer and a Gentleman”. 

They were given a powerhouse supporting cast led by Oscar-winners George C. Scott and Louise Fletcher, along with Martin Sheen and Heather Locklear. 

The movie didn’t fare so well but in 2002, “Firestarter” was turned into a miniseries, “Firestarter:  Rekindled”, and now, another 20 years later, we have a remake starring Zac Efron, teen idol of “High School Musical” now playing a father role. 

The girl Charlie (now played by Kiera Armstrong, who’s not a cutesy like Drew then) showed her pyrokinetic powers even as a baby, so her dad and her mom (Sydney Lemmon), have to teach her how to repress and control her powers. 

Her parents were the subjects of an experiment and they were injected with a drug that is supposed to give them super powers. 

Andy acquires the power of telepathy while his wife gets telekinesis. 

The government agency that supervises them wants to weaponize them so they escape. 

They try to lead simple lives as ordinary people but, in the case of Charlie, she is tired of living a sheltered life as an outsider. 

Overprotected by her parents, she wants to go out and be like other children who are free to move around. 

Her parents agree for her to go to a regular school, but the other kids bully her. Her fire creating powers are triggered by anger or pain and the bullying she gets results into a fiery incident in school. 

Her emotional outbursts send thermal signs and it turns out these are being monitored by the secret agency led by Capt. Jane Hollister (Gloria Reuben). 

She is hunting down Andy and wants to get him back, along with his family, so that they can do further experiments on them. 

She gets the help of another superhuman, Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes) to capture Andy and his family. 

Rainbird was played by George C. Scott in the original, but here they make him an American Native Indian. 

Compared to the original, this sequel obviously tried to save money on its anemic casting.

Rainbird goes to Charlie’s home and kills her poor mom. He tries to get Charlie, but she fights back. 

She sends bursts of flames around their house to block him off, so she and her dad are able to get away and escape in their truck. 

They meet other people on the road,  but the agency won’t leave them alone and they are able to Andy. 

Charlie gets to escape and, with the telepathic messages her dad sends her, she is able to locate the agency’s lab where her dad is a prisoner. She storms it all by herself to destroy everything and everyone with all her sizzling gifts.    

The 1984 version was not really that spectacular and we’re hoping the new 2022 version will be an improvement. 

But despite changes they made in the narrative, they still have a plodding storyline and lacks rising suspense. It could have been an origin film of another superhero, but the script is quite badly written.

Charlie’s character as an individual is not even richly developed to make her more amazing and sympathetic by giving more insight into her heart and mindset. 

And the young actress chosen to play her doesn’t have much to offer either and we cannot really connect with her.

Zac Efron’s portrayal of a dad who can be hard on her daughter but is really terrified for her is quite sincere and we wish he’d get better projects that would help boost his career in the future as a leading man.

The book’s original premise is to show what happens when a human being with supernatural powers grows up in an environment of fear and distrust and her negative feelings are further aggravated by hatred for the people who bully her or just want to take advantage of her.  

This concept was new then, but it has since already been used in other films, like “Brightburn” about a mysterious boy with very dark powers, and “Chronicle” with Dane DeHaan as a teener who acquires incredible powers. 

This new version of “Firestarter” has an open-ended finale where the girl gets an unexpected ally in the man who killed her mom. 

Looks like they did this with the prospect of allowing for the development of possible sequels or maybe, a streaming series, but the fact that the movie fared badly at the tills is an indication that there will be no such future follow up projects.