- FIRESTARTER (2022)
- Starring: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong
- Directed by: Keith Thomas
- Rating: R
- Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins
- Universal Pictures
In 1980, one of author Stephen King’s most iconic novels was published – “Firestarter.” The 426-page epic blend of science fiction and horror is just as good of a read now as it was then. As with a lot of King’s works, an inevitable movie adaptation was released in 1984 starring a young Drew Barrymore as the title character with the legendary George C. Scott and Martin Sheen playing her antagonists. While it remained relatively faithful to the book, the film was roundly panned by critics of the day and King himself was dismissive of the effort. Flash forward to present day when someone decided it was a great idea to remake the story with near-total disregard to King’s work. The newest incarnation of “Firestarter,” currently in theaters, is a jaw-droppingly bad film with a bland script, boorish acting and bad direction.
Through an experimental drug known only as Lot 6, college students Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon, “Helstrom”) develop supernatural powers – telepathy for the former and telekinesis for the latter. They prove to be the only ones who survive experiment, or at least the only ones who remain sane. When they went on the run from a company known as DSI is unclear, but we are left to assume it started after the baby they had together began to exhibit pyrokinetic abilities.
After Captain Jane Hollister (played with melodramatic zeal by Gloria Reuben) is notified of their possible location, she reinstates cold-blooded assassin Rainbird (played with one dimensional abandon by Michael Greyeyes, “I Know This Much Is True”), who was also a guinea pig for Lot 6, to retrieve Charlie for study at her secret facility. Initially, he fails in his assignment as Andy and his 11-year-old daughter Charlie elude him. However, their freedom is short-lived when Andy is captured after they become separated. Desperate to return to her father, Charlie works to control her powers, which are numerous, over the course of just a few hours in the woods.
The newest incarnation of “Firestarter” should have never been released in theaters. It is not even worth a direct-to-streaming release. Its final destination should have been the scrap heap of horrible ideas. Ideas that involve someone thinking, “Hey, let’s ignore an already perfectly written story and turn it into a trainwreck.” There is nothing redeemable about this film. Period.
Efron’s performance exhibits the same amount of range as a tone-deaf piece of wood. There’s nothing in it to pulls us in and care about his character. However, this can be said of virtually every other bit of acting in the film. Armstrong is unable to shed tears when needed to and when one tragic event occurs, neither she nor Efron react with any sense of loss.
The pacing is boring, and the lack of suspense is palpable. If King didn’t like the 1984 film, which looks like a classic compared to this one, then he must despise this version ten-fold as it bears almost no resemblance to his book. Overall, stay away from “Firestarter” or you may get burned.