A father and his pyrokinetic daughter are hunted down by a government agency hellbent on capturing them to weaponize their powers.
Directed by Keith Thomas
Written by Scott Teems
Starring Zac Efron, Ryan Keira Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Michael Greyeyes, Gloria Reuben, Kurtwood Smith
Remake of 1984's Firestarter
Based on the novel by Stephen King
I am so tired of arrogant screenwriters and directors who think they know King better than he does. If you're going to adapt a beloved novel, regardless of the author, you should stick to the story, or at the very least maintain the spirit of said novel. What you shouldn't do is deviate from the source material so hard that you make the story unrecognizable and alienate the devoted fans of the work. That's exactly what happened with Firestarter, proving definitively that Stephen King's work translates amazingly into a great trailer (Pet Sematary, Doctor Sleep, etc.), but rarely into a great movie unless the people involved actually care (It, Gerald's Game, Doctor Sleep again, etc.).
The barebones of the story are still there. Charlie (Armstrong) is a kid with powerful pyrokinetic powers, and the government agency who inadvertently created her is hunting her down. Only this time, the characters are almost completely unlikable. Charlie is a little sadist, her father Andy (Efron) is resentful of her and doesn't really like her all that much, and Rainbird (Greyeyes, who was at least trying) is a victim now, and the audience should feel sorry for him. That's like making Pennywise an actual circus clown who is misunderstood and just wants friends. It's a mockery of King's novel and neuters one of his scariest villains. Almost everything with the Shop has been removed, erasing any emotional connection between Charlie and the villains. It's like the filmmakers figured anyone watching would already be somewhat familiar with Firestarter, so they didn't need to try that hard to establish anything. At least John Carpenter delivered on the film's score, which is one of the few things I enjoyed.
Deviating from the source material is one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when it's this much. This movie barely resembles King's novel and it makes the 1984 movie look like a masterpiece. I'm not alone on this one either. Fans everywhere are condemning this film, and it's tanked hard at the box office. I hope this one keeps Keith Thomas and Scott Teems far away from any more of King's work at the very least.