Saturday 24 June 2023

Movie Review: Firestarter (1984)

Genre: Science Fiction Horror
Director: Mark L. Lester
Starring: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Heather Locklear
Running Time: 114 minutes

Synopsis: Andrew McGee (David Keith) and his young daughter Charlene (Drew Barrymore) attempt to escape capture by government agents. Years prior in college, Andrew and fellow student Vicky (Heather Locklear) participated in a mysterious drug trial: Andrew developed the power to control others and Vicky the ability to read minds. Their daughter Charlene was born with pyrokinesis (the capacity to start and stop fires with her mind). Now government agents Hollister (Martin Sheen) and Rainbird (George C. Scott) want to capture Andrew and Charlene to militarize their powers.

What Works Well: The adaptation of Stephen King's novel offers an intriguing concept by evolving his ideas from Carrie with classic child-in-peril thrills. Nine-year-old Drew Barrymore has pouty presence, and director Mark L. Lester delivers the best moments by focusing on her fan-swept face as she expresses uncontrolled anger with heat.

What Does Not Work As Well: The plot is severely undermined by doofus bad guy behaviour, and momentum grinds to a halt in the second half as Charlene and her father are subjected to uncoordinated experiments reminiscent of low-budget mad scientist antics. George C. Scott resorts to chewing the scenery in the absence of any background context for his character's demonic obsession. The special effects are quickly repetitive.

Conclusion: Fire and fury without coherence nor control.

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