In this remake of Firestarter, you get what purely feels like an origin story left on a frustrating ellipsis to set up a sequel.


Director(s) Keith Thomas
Screenplay By Scott Teems
Date Released (In Theaters, Peacock) 5/13/2022
Genre(s) Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Family
Duration 1 Hour and 34 Minutes,
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Cast
Charlie Ryan Kiera Armstrong
Andy Zac Efron
Vicky Sydney Lemmon
Rainbird Michael Greyeyes
Captain Hollister Gloria Reuben
Doctor Wanless Kurtwood Smith

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Film Summary

11-year-old Charlie knew she and her parents were different for all of her life. She knew they were different, from never having access to cell phones and computers to moving constantly. Add in Charlie being able to conjure fire when upset or nervous, which her parents tried to suppress, and normality was foreign.

However, after yet another day of being bullied, Charlie loses her ability to suppress her powers and scares a teacher who has the cops called. Because of this, Charlie’s parents, Andy and Vicky, prep to make a new run for it. However, between the new head of the DSI, Captain Hollister, and one of her soldiers who has powers like Charlie, Andy, and Vicky, it isn’t clear if Charlie’s family can go back into hiding and try, again, to lead some semblance of a normal life.

Things To Note

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing (Throughout), Violence (Blood, Gun violence, visuals of burnt flesh, and gun violence)

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How many are there like Charlie, Andy, Vicky, and the man hunting them, Rainbird?
  2. What led Dr. Wanless to start the experiments that caused Vicky, Rainbird, and Andy to have powers?
  3. Surely there is more than one DSI office, right?
  4. What connections led to Vicky and Andy being able to have enough identification to get a house, never mind put Charlie in school?

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Charlie

All 11-year-old Charlie wants is to be normal. However, with pyrokinetic powers, she has to always regulate her emotions. Then, not having access to a cellphone or the internet makes her a weirdo in modern society, and with parents who keep why they live so different a secret, it is frustrating to live a life without any real outlet.

Andy

To make ends meet, Andy pushes thoughts into people’s heads, such as helping them to stop smoking since he was charged with a crime when the DSI tried to snatch Charlie after she was born.

Vicky

Unlike Andy and Charlie, Vicky doesn’t use her powers. In fact, there is a need to question if she does much outside the home at all.

Rainbird

Before Andy and Vicky were volunteers for the drug Doctor Wanless made, Rainbird was experimented on, leading to him having powers that aren’t as flashy as Charlie, Andy, or Vicky’s.

Captain Hollister

The new head of the DSI who has made it a priority to capture Charlie alive.

Doctor Wanless

Doctor Wanless, who lives in a psychiatric hospital, seemingly for long-term care, is the one who made the formula that allows Rainbird, Andy, and Vicky to have powers. However, he has long since retired from practicing medicine and seems to regret what he has created.

Review

Highlights

If It Was A Pilot, It Would Make Sense

Firestarter has a few things going for it. Armstrong makes a wonderful lead, and when you put her with Efron and Lemmon, they make a cute family trying to have normalcy despite the parents torn on how to raise Charlie, specifically on whether they should hone or suppress her powers. Add in the basic groundwork done to establish who DSI is, showing some of the others, seemingly before Andy and Vicky, who got tested and given powers, and you can see what would make an awesome pilot.

On The Fence

It Feels Rushed

I’m not sure what the goal was for this individual film. From reading the book’s plot summary, it seems like this isn’t like when IT was redone, with there being a desire to lean more towards the source material. So much is cut out that you are left wondering whether they had sequel plans to fill in details or was a potential series in consideration?

For when I say they presented only the basic groundwork, that is generous. We get a quick note of who is the big bad, their henchman, the name of the company hunting Charlie, and who started the company. It’s a need-to-know basis kind of movie, and even when it comes to Charlie and her parents, there is no denying the best was done with what was there. However, it doesn’t really spend time to build either a loving relationship between all parties or one that feels survival-based.

Everything feels like a reaction, and while the pacing keeps you from wanting to check how much time is left, that doesn’t mean you are necessarily entertained or overtly invested. More so, as Andy and Charlie use their powers more and more, and the film gets more violent, that is what keep you engaged. For if there is one part of the film in which escalation is handled well, it is the violence. As for everything else? It’ll feel like a check box system was used for the script.

The Ending

Firestarter doesn’t feel complete. When the credits hit, you instantly feel like the movie is setting up a sequel while barely justifying the first film in a would-be duology or trilogy. Which leaves you wanting to stay for the credits, under the idea that maybe more may happen or be shown to really give this a strong ending, but that isn’t the case. Firestarter doesn’t have a mid or end credit scene, so you’re just left with this ellipsis that doesn’t leave you wanting more. If anything, it just makes you wish you watched this at home on Peacock.

Overall

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

This new version of Firestarter clearly was made with plans to have sequels to follow up this story. However, while there is some attachment to the actors, everything feels so rushed that the relationships aren’t stable, and what happens to them doesn’t have impact. Also, I’d submit that most of your investment in characters comes from recognizing the actors and feeling attached to them due to past roles than their roles in this film.

Hence the mixed label. With Firestarter rushing through developing its characters and story and leaving us with a lackluster ending, I wouldn’t consider this an imperative to see.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 
Movie Poster - Firestater
Firestarter (2022) – Review/ Summary
Overall
Those who like watching people with powers inflict pain on those without it.
Highlights
If It Was A Pilot, It Would Make Sense
Disputable
It Feels Rushed
The Ending
76


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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