Zac Efron isn’t horrible in Peacock’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel Firestarter, however he’s distracting. Each every so often, whereas watching it, the thought seems unbidden, as if it was positioned by one of many movie’s psychic protagonists: Oh yeah, Zac Efron is on this. As with the 1984 movie model of Firestarter — extensively acknowledged as one of many worst King diversifications — the forged and crew of the 2022 Firestarter options names that appear too high-profile for this explicit undertaking. The place the brand new model truly surpasses the ’84 film is that on this case, not less than a few these names ship.
Efron stars alongside Sydney Lemmon (Helstrom, Worry the Strolling Lifeless) and Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Anne with an E, Black Widow) as Andy McGee, patriarch of a small clan burdened with harmful psychic powers coveted by a CIA-esque authorities company often known as the DSI. Andy can psychically “push” individuals into doing issues, a talent he’s utilizing to treatment nicotine addictions for money in an early scene. Vicky (Lemmon) refuses to make use of her ill-defined powers in any respect. And their younger daughter, Charlie (Armstrong), treats her pyrokinetic talents like a psychological sickness, utilizing respiratory workouts and self-soothing methods to maintain them at bay.
King’s novel and the 1984 movie each begin in medias res, after DSI brokers lastly observe down the McGee household and pressure Andy and Charlie to go on the run. The 2022 Firestarter backs up-to-the-minute the place Charlie’s powers start to reemerge so Scott Teems’ embarrassing screenplay can clarify some issues. Teems additionally wrote 2021’s disappointing Halloween Kills, and Firestarter equally suffers from crude exposition and convoluted themes. (Very like Halloween Kills, this movie apparently can’t determine whether or not homicide is dangerous.) The 2022 Firestarter’s dialogue is laughably insipid, an actual baloney sandwich on white bread that solely essentially the most expert members of the movie’s forged — specifically, Kurtwood Smith in a small position as a regretful authorities researcher and Michael Greyeyes as superpowered DSI murderer Rainbird — could make sound midway first rate.
Greyeyes specifically is a spotlight. He’s good in all the pieces, to be honest, and this film actually doesn’t deserve him. (The truth that this time round, Rainbird, a Cherokee character, is definitely performed by a Native actor fairly than George C. Scott in brownface, is one level within the remake’s column.) When Rainbird is striding round with nice goal and throwing objects across the room along with his thoughts, Greyeyes makes him an antihero to root for. And as soon as Charlie (although perhaps not the script) absolutely grasps the puberty metaphor and turns her blossoming powers right into a coming-of-age second, she’s a hoot as nicely.
That may’t be stated for the remainder of the forged, who’re plopped onto the proverbial iceberg and pushed out to sea in these moments the place they should ship multiple line of dialogue at a time. Usually, the 2022 Firestarter is fairly okay when nobody is speaking. The sensible telekinetic and hearth results are dramatic and professionally executed. And despite some really baffling colour grading within the first half of the movie, director Keith Thomas does present a little bit of low-budget aptitude in the course of the climactic pyromaniacal showdown. (That being stated, it’s underwhelming in comparison with the cocaine-decade extra of the 1984 movie’s ending. Rating one for the unique model.)
In one other spotlight, John Carpenter and his son/bandmate Cody wrote the rating for the brand new Firestarter, a mirrored image of Carpenter’s willingness to work on motion pictures so long as he can simply do the enjoyable elements, then again to watching basketball. (This Blumhouse manufacturing additionally shares fairly a couple of behind-the-scenes personnel with the rebooted Halloween franchise, additional explaining the Carpenters’ presence on the undertaking.) Irrespective of how onerous different individuals might strive, nobody can compose an uncanny-yet-catchy synth line like the person himself. A lot as with Greyeyes, this film most likely doesn’t deserve John Carpenter, nevertheless it does profit from his involvement.
Firestarter predates the 2010s wave of “elevated” superhero motion pictures — in reality, the S-word doesn’t seem within the ’84 model in any respect. (Right here, sadly, it’s uttered, albeit fairly late within the movie.) And to be clear, neither of the Firestarter movies are competing on the identical degree as motion pictures like Fast Color or Midnight Special, each of which share parts with this horror-ish, paranoid sci-fi thriller. However generally on this planet of remakes and Stephen King diversifications — and particularly when the 2 overlap — “high quality” can grow to be awfully relative. Firestarter 2022 is a marginal enchancment on the ’84 authentic, if solely as a result of it has a handful of redeeming qualities fairly than nearly none in any respect.
Firestarter is presently in theaters and streaming on Peacock.