Saturday, 11 June 2022

REVIEW: Firestarter (2022) Starring Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley, Michael Greyeyes and Gloria Reuben

Review by Jon Donnis
Today's film is Firestarter, basically about a young girl who has the ability to set things on fire! Now this is a remake of a 1984 film of the same name that featured a young Drew Barrymore in just her 3rd film after Altered States and ET. I have to say I do not recall ever seeing the original film, so I come into this 2022 version completely fresh, and without a preconceived idea of what the film should be.


The film starts off with a dream/flashback scene, whereby a baby Charlene "Charlie" McGee (later played by the excellent Ryan Kiera Armstrong), is resting in her crib, when out of nowhere it seems that she starts to set the room on fire starting with the mobile above her. Suddenly Charlie's father Andrew "Andy" McGee, (Zac Efron) runs into the room. Picks up the baby, when suddenly the baby sets on fire too. Andy wakes up in bed in the present. After going downstairs, he finds Charlie sat at the table, now a bit older. After having a nightmare, Charlie is sat playing with a lighter, Victoria "Vicky" Tomlinson-McGee, Charlie's mother, played by Sydney Lemmon joins Andy to talk with Charlie, Charlie's powers are becoming more unstable and they talk to her about how to control them.


We get another flashback of sorts this time through recorded tape interviews with a Dr. Joseph Wanless, (Played by Robocop legend Kurtwood Smith), this time with Andy and Vicky taking part in an FDA clinical trial. The questions start to move towards psychic powers. And through the flashbacks we learn that they are to be injected with an experimental chemical compound drug called Lot-6, which unbeknownst to them, gives them supernatural powers, Andy gains telepathy, and Vicky obtains telekinesis.


Back in the present day, and Charlie has had an "event" at school, and a bathroom stall has exploded after she was being bullied. 


In a secret facility , Captain Jane Hollister (Gloria Reuben) is monitoring Charlie, and goes to meet Dr. Joseph Wanless, he tells Hollister she needs to kill Charlie before her powers become too strong. Hollister enlists the help of John Rainbird, (Michael Greyeyes) a bounty hunter with powers of his own to help track down Charlie.


What follows is a decent horror/thriller. There are quite a few decent set pieces, and plenty of shots of Charlie screaming and setting things on fire, as well as her attempts to develop her powers and learn to control them.

The film starts off strong, the opening scene with the baby is excellent and really catches the viewer's attention, unfortunately things go a bit dull before we get to see the Charlie character really let off the shackles, and that is where the film hits full stride.

Watching this film does make me want to watch the original now, as the original is something of a cult favourite, I hear.


The Good
Ryan Kiera Armstrong is excellent as the young Charlie, and as already mentioned she really nails the role down in the last third of the film, with some edge of your seat action. Zac Efron also puts in a strong performance as the father, and delivers the lines convincingly.

The Bad
Despite being only 90 minutes long, there are some dull scenes which come across as filler.

Overall
I enjoyed Firestarter, it was way better than I thought, and the strong start will help you forgive the dull parts to get through to the final big finish.

I score Firestarter a hot 8/10

Out Now at Cinemas and on Digital (Peacock).
And you can pre-order the home entertainment release at https://amzn.to/3tu6VGe