Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Movie Review: "Firestarter" (1984)

Director: Mark L. Lester
Year: 1984
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

A telepathic man and his young pyrokinetic daughter are being hunted by a government agency known as "The Shop," who hopes to use their abilities for their own means.

Drew Barrymore leans on David Keith's shoulder while they are on the run in a movie scene from 1984's horror film Firestarter
"If I do something bad, will you still love me?" (Image Source)
The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire! We don't need no water because it's really no use, Drew Barrymore can just set that on fire, too. "Firestarter" is directed by Mark L. Lester, who is known for directing "Commando," "Armed and Dangerous," and "Showdown in Little Tokyo." The screenplay is written by Stanley Mann and is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. The story follows Charlene 'Charlie' McGee (Drew Barrymore), the daughter of Andy McGee (David Keith) and his wife Vicky (Heather Locklear). The two met while participating in a research study conducted by a government agency known as The Shop, who was testing a drug called LOT-6. This drug gave Vicky and Andy telepathic powers, which led their daughter to be born with pyrokinetic abilities, meaning she can start fires with her mind. The Shop wants to capture Charlie and use her powers for their own (probably) nefarious means. After The Shop murders Vicky while trying to kidnap Charlie, Andy takes her on the run, but they live their lives in fear of what will happen if they are ever captured, especially if anyone makes Charlie mad and underestimates her abilities.
Movie review for "Firestarter" and movie still where George C. Scott carries an unconscious Drew Barrymore away from men in silver hazard suits
"It's like letting a wild animal out of the cage. I promised I'd never do it again." (Image Source)
"Firestarter" is a sci-fi horror film that sprinkles in a little action throughout its runtime. It's similar in tone and style to David Cronenberg's 1981 film "Scanners," which also dealt with characters who had telekinetic abilities. This movie isn't loaded with a creepy atmosphere or tons of tension, but it deals with the fear of the unknown and the idea that we don't have control over our own thoughts, which is a compelling notion. Plus, being burned alive is a terrifyingly shitty way to die. "Firestarter" is a bit methodically paced and can feel like it drags a bit, especially in the first portion of the film where Andy and Charlie are on the run. Things get much more interesting once they are taken into custody by The Shop, who tries to convince Charlie to show off her powers for them. There are a lot of mental mind games going on as Captain Hollister (Martin Sheen) and John Rainbird (George C. Scott) manipulate Andy and Charlie. We thought it would have been harder to trick a little girl who can see a short time into the future and would see a betrayal coming, but what do we know? It is these inconsistencies with Charlie's abilities that can make the story feel contrived at times. The acting is decent enough (apart from George C. Scott and Drew Barrymore, who give great performances). The characters aren't the most developed ones we've ever seen, but they get the job done. There are some bouts of terrifically cheesy dialogue that made us laugh. Luckily, it's not all bad. Watching Drew Barrymore set the bad guys on fire is a heck of a lot of fun to watch. There are a couple of big action set pieces full of flames, fireballs, and explosions that make for a sensational spectacle.
Stephen King's Firestarter 1984 movie still showing Charlie (Drew Barrymore) burning a building to the ground with her mind
"You're dangerous, Charlie, and you know it." (Image Source)
Despite its flaws, we found "Firestarter" to be a pretty entertaining viewing experience, and we think it's worth a watch for those who dig sci-fi horror movies.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
RT Rating: 35%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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