Director: Mark L. Lester
Starring: David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Freddie Jones, Heather Locklear, Martin Sheen
She has the power… an evil destructive force
Andy McGee is out for some fast cash and signs up to be a guinea pig for an experimental drug called LOT-6. He meets his future wife Vicky at this place and they go through the experience together. The experiment changes them forever by giving Vicky the ability of mind reading and Andy with the ability to push thoughts into the minds of others.
They get married and bring a young child they name Charlie into the world. She inherits their powers and can set anything on fire and also tell the future. Because she is a child, she is having trouble controlling her powers, making her quite dangerous. When she is nine years old, a government agency sets out to get Charlie and they will go to any lengths to get her and control her.
Firestarter is a film based on a novel by the legendary horror writer Stephen King. A fun fact about this production is that John Carpenter was originally attached to direct this and I can’t imagine how different the end product would have been with him behind the camera directing the great cast that this film has. It has been probably fifteen years since the last time I saw this film and it didn’t do very much for me at a young age and I can’t say it did now while I revisited it as an adult either.
My main problem with the film is that it doesn’t bring out any emotions at all. It’s not suspenseful, exciting or fun. The premise is ok, but it’s certainly a story that fits better as a book than a movie. It gives me a little TV feeling in that it is played out very safe. What does save it from being a bad film is great performances by the cast and the interesting relationship between young Charlie and John Rainbird.
They should have constructed the story for this in a different way. I wish they had spent more time with the family before sending the agents after them and it could also have went faster to the last third. The film lasts nearly two hours, which is twenty minutes too long for this story. I think it would have been better with a simple three-part act and a 90 minute running time.
As I’ve mentioned already, I did like the cast for this film. George C. Scott is especially good as the demented John Rainbird and his scenes with young Drew Barrymore is the best in the film. Barrymore was a great child actress and even though she touches the viewer’s heart more in E.T. or even Cat’s Eye, she is still able to hold her own against these other experienced actors.
The film was directed by Mark L. Lester and I can’t say I found much enjoyment in the way he handled the film. It almost feels like it was done without passion and simply for a paycheck. He followed this up with the Arnold Schwarzenegger action classic Commando only a year later, so he has proven that he was able to do much better than this. It should also be said that the screenplay by Stanley Mann wasn’t the best either.
Firestarter is a mediocre Stephen King adaptation that doesn’t work very well on the big or small screen. It is too long and lacks passion, but is saved by a great cast. I’d say that this is only for those who wants to see every Stephen King adaptation out there and compared to other ones, this isn’t the worst you could find.