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  • Firestarter is one of those movies that bores critics and often appears as weekend or late night filler on TV. Even so, the movie does have its moments. Give it a chance, and Firestarter will grow on you.

    Fans of the X Files will be at home with the movie's plot about an experimental drug given to 60s college students by a secret government agency, known as The Shop. Two of the students (portrayed by David Keith and Heather Locklear) eventually marry and a child is born; a "firestarter" (played by Drew Barrymore) who can set anything ablaze with just one angry thought. Martin Sheen and George C. Scott round out the cast as heads of The Shop, who are now bent on capturing the girl and harnessing her power as a weapon, not to mention using her as a way to get funding for more experiments.

    The acting and dialogue certainly aren't award-winning, but they do carry the movie along. The music, written and performed by Tangerine Dream, is perfectly suited to the movie, and in my opinion is some of Tangerine Dream's best work. The special effects are convincing, and at times, chilling. Readers of Stephen King's best-selling novel will be happy to know that this movie is, for the most part, faithful to his original story, despite a rather clipped ending.

    In all, if you have a taste for conspiracy thrillers with a healthy dose of science fiction thrown in, you'll like this one, though it probably won't be your favorite.
  • virek21331 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    During 1983 and 1984, there were no fewer than four movies released that were based on the works of Stephen King, this era's horror literature maven. The first three were THE DEAD ZONE, CUJO, and CHRISTINE. The fourth, and least commercially successful, was FIRESTARTER, based on King's 1980 novel. The fact that it didn't fare all that well with critics or audiences doesn't diminish the fact that it remains, despite some flaws, one of the best adaptations of King's works, as well as a commentary on the dangerous of government interference and dissembling in people's lives.

    Drew Barrymore, who made a star-making turn in E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, is the young girl possessed of a devastating kind of psychic power called pyrokinesis, the ability to light fires just by concentrating long and hard about it. Her power is the result of her parents (David Keith; Heather Locklear) having undergone a bizarre chemical experiment in 1969 conducted by a secret government agency known as The Shop. Since then, eight of the ten patients originally involved have died horrible deaths, and Locklear has been murdered by agents of the Shop. Now, Keith and Barrymore are on their own, with Keith's only ability to protect Barrymore being his own psychic ability. But once in the hands of the Shop, led by Martin Sheen and George C. Scott, they are the subject of various experiments on their abilities. Barrymore gets special attention, of course, because of her fiery power, especially from Scott. In the end, of course, Sheen and Scott, and the rest of the Shop's minions, find out what happens when you play with a power that you don't fully appreciate...

    There are admittedly flaws with FIRESTARTER, most of them having to do with the slightly perfunctory way that Mark L. Lester (CLASS OF 1984) directs the actors, this even though he has some superb ones, notably Sheen and Scott. The dialogue is also a little clunky at times too. But overall, FIRESTARTER succeeds more often than it fails, due to King's own narrative genius, Barrymore's credible performance, and the special effects wizardry of Mike Wood. The scenes of the Shop being incinerated at the end by Barrymore's burning rage after her father has been killed are particularly spectacular. FIRESTARTER also benefits from brief but welcome cameo roles by Art Carney and Louise Fletcher, who become her protectors after the firestorm.

    However flawed it might be, FIRESTARTER does provide plenty of suspense and atmosphere without an extreme amount of bloodshed (though the fire scenes are quite hair-raising all the same), and is well worth seeing.
  • Firestarter is the story of Charlie (Drew Barrymore at age 8) and Andy, her dad (David Keith), and the people who are trying to imprison, control and/or kill them (Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Moses Gunn, and others). Charlie is a mutant. Her father and mother were part of an experiment on mutagenic substances performed on college students in the 1960s by The Shop. The experiment gave Andy the ability to control others minds, but the mutation, apparently dormant in his wife, was passed on through the sex chromosome to his daughter. Charlie, quite plainly, can combust virtually anything with her mind.

    Though all the acting in this film is good, Barrymore and Scott are truly awesome. Scott plays a brilliant sociopath, and can go from a kindly old Viet Nam vet to a ruthless killer with one quick change of facial expression. And Barrymore (at the age of 8, if you didn't pick up on that the first time I said it) gives her character a fully believable person-hood with great depth.

    Like the novel, this is more of a horror-thriller than classic King ghost stories - like The Shining. It is also less classic King horror - like Carrie. And its also not a great drama like Dolores Claiborne, Misery and Stand By Me. Though it fits into roughly the same category as Hearts in Atlantis, it is not a literary as this much later King work and the characters are not as well developed. Although the book could be said to be one of King's earlier experiments with what would become a formula for his lesser works, King's writing is so lucid, and his characters are so interesting, believable and nicely examined, that his 'B fiction' is still somewhat above the average best-seller. The film follows the book very closely, and, like the book, is sort of a prototype for the more formulaic films in the King portfolio.

    The directing is very good, the cinematography (especially the effects) is excellent, and the film is, as a whole entertaining. But, for those who have not read the book, the film will likely come off as 'no big deal.' As with many of the more formulaic King-derived films, this is best seen as a cathartic summary of the original work (like Dreamcatchers, Running Man, The Stand, Maximum Overdrive, The Mangler and others).
  • Despite the fact that the films usually revolve around good and interesting stories, film adaptations of Stephen King's works are often not the best horror movies. Firestarter isn't the best known of his books, and that's slightly odd as this film adaptation is one of the best based on his stories. The film takes obvious influence from Brian De Palma's 'The Fury', as aside from the fact that this one is about a young girl that can start fires, and De Palma's film features a boy with psychic abilities; the way that both plots play out is very similar indeed. The plot has a number of problems, and the characters don't always act logically; but this is offset by the likable nature of the film, and characters that are easy to get along with due to their relatively simplistic nature. The film follows the aftermath of an experiment in which people were given an experimental drug. The ultimate result of this experiment was a child born of Andy and Vicky McGee; a child with a unique ability known as 'pyrokinesis' - the ability to start fires at will.

    The film benefits from a range of cult stars. A young Drew Barrymore takes the title role, and although her acting skills hadn't been honed by the time this film was released, and she is more than a little bit wooden; she provides an interesting lead. David Keith and Martin Sheen back her up well in supporting roles, but the main acting plaudits go to the great George C. Scott who is good in what is probably the meatiest role of the piece. The running time is a little long for a film like this, but it's well used and the fact that the story doesn't get caught up with needless elements such as the girl's mother and father falling in love is definitely a good thing. The plot is very relaxed for most of the way through, and director Mark L. Lester seems content to just let things play out. That is until the last fifteen minutes; when the plot reaches its full potential and explodes with a fun and exciting finale. The film does feel more than a little bit like a TV movie at times; and the dumbed down techno soundtrack doesn't help this. Overall, the film definitely isn't perfect; but it's an enjoyable watch and King films have definitely been a lot worse!
  • Suspenseful and terrifying entertainment that goes beyond its genre , dealing with a girl who has the unwanted and often uncontrollable gift of Pyrokinesis, as a result of a government experiment , lighting fires by mere thought . A couple Victoria 'Vicky' Tomlinson McGee (Heather Locklear of Dynasty) and Andy McGee (David Keith , he was 14th choice) who participated in a potent medical experiment gain telekinetic ability and then have a child named Charlene 'Charlie' McGee (Jennifer Connelly , Taylor Neff were considered and Bridgette Andersen, the star of Savannah Smiles, tested for the role of Charlie, ultimately played by Drew Barrymore) who is pyrokinetic . Charlie McGee (whose character was modeled on King's daughter Naomi) has an extraordinary power (or is that haunted) , sometimes uncontrollable and an evil destructive force . Meanwhile a secret government agency known as "The Shop" led by Captain Hollister (Martin Sheen took over at a late stage from Burt Lancaster who had to withdraw following heart surgery) and send a sniper named John Rainbird (George C Scott) and plot to kidnap the duo for study them and testing their abilities.

    This exciting tale packs noisy action , explosions , suspense , thriller , chills , poignant plot and results to be an enjoyable though frightening entertainment , including some silly and embarrassing scenes . The movie delivers the goods with hair-rising thrills as when the little girl executes the astonishing abilities . It stars Drew Barrymore in one of her first roles after E.T. , as the gifted child of the title who has the ability to ignite objects around her . David Keith is good as the daddy who attempts to protect her from the nasties . Secondary cast is frankly excellent as Freddie Jones as Doctor Joseph Wanley , Art Carney as Irv Manders , Louise Fletcher as Norma Manders , Moses Gunn as Doctor Pynchot and Antonio Fargas as a Cabman . The fire special effects , themselves , of course , are the real protagonists , and they're surprising , astounding, and quite convincing . The special effects gave work to a great number of technician people and lots of stunts . This film was originally going to be directed by John Carpenter. According to Carpenter, Universal executives removed him from the project in the wake of the box office and critical drubbing they received for The Thing ,Carpenter had reportedly talked to his Assault on Precinct 13 actor, Darwin Joston about taking on the role of John Rainbird, which was ultimately played by George C. Scott . Strange soundtrack by Tangerine Dream was composed and performed by means of synthesizer ,they never actually saw the film and sent filmmaker some music and told him to choose whatever he liked . It was followed by ¨Firestarter 2 : rekindled¨ (2002) by Robert Iscove with Marguerite Moreau as Charlene "Charlie" McGee , Malcolm McDowell , Dennis Hopper and Danny Nucci and in which Charlie has been in hiding for nearly all her life from a top-secret government fringe group headed by a maniacal who wants to find and use her as the ultimate weapon of war.

    The motion picture was well produced by Dino Laurentiis and professionally directed by Mark L. Lester. Director Mark L. Lester confirmed that this is his most difficult film that he ever made . He's a cool director and producer -American World Pictures- of B movies , his greatest success was during the 80s when he directed hits , such as ¨Commando¨, ¨Showdown in Little Tokio¨ and ¨Class of 99¨ and this ¨Firestarter¨.
  • If you thought that "Carrie" made incredible use of conflagrations, you ain't seen nothing yet! In Stephen King's other combustion-themed story, "Firestarter" portrays the daughter (Drew Barrymore) of a experimental guinea pig (David Keith) using her ignition abilities to get her way. When the government kidnaps her and her father, things really get ugly.

    On one level, this movie seems a little preachy, with the shadowy agents going after the man and his daughter. But I would call that an accurate depiction of things. And you gotta agree with what the girl does, no matter how extreme she gets (and I'm talking really extreme). So I definitely recommend this movie. But if you're a pyromaniac, don't let this movie encourage you.

    Also starring Heather Locklear, Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Art Carney and Louise Fletcher.
  • The main problem with "Firestarter" is it tries to adapt the story of the book faithfully, at the expense of character development. It is impossible to cram a five hundred page book into one two hour movie and make it work favourably. For much of the picture, the pacing feels awkward and rushed, more interested in moving the plot along than developing the characters.

    Brian De Palma's "Carrie" followed the story of the book just as closely. But seeing as "Carrie" is less than half the length of "Firestarter", it made for a much more comfortable adaptation.

    Stanley Kubrick had the right idea with "the Shining". The book was about the same length as "Firestarter", and as a result the plot was butchered heavily to make it work for the screen. Stephen King (and much of his loyal fanbase) have misgivings about Kubrick's adaptation, a lot of people who love film (and recognise it as the different medium that it is) regard it as a masterpiece.

    Mark Lester's "Firestarter" isn't all bad however. George C. Scott's John Rainbird is inspired casting, and probably the best thing this film has going for it. The scene at the Manders' farm, and the conclusion at the Shop's headquarters make for enjoyable viewing and are handled capably.

    It's a shame, that as a whole, the film doesn't work too well. I'd definitely like to see this re-adapted into another film or a mini-series. The book isn't exactly King's best, but it has a lot of potential for another screen outing. 5/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Psychological and psychedelic testing produce some amazing results. Now those results are walking and talking and very unhappy with the agency who created it.

    Delightfully triumphant, wonderfully destructive forces are about to be tapped, honed and unleashed against the government who has created and now hopes to utilize these frightening powers upon the world.

    Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore at the age of 9) is the product of psychological and psychedelic drug experiments performed by the US government upon her parents before her conception.

    After witnessing the murder of her mother, she and her father are on the run from the mysterious bunch of gun-carrying miscreants known only as "the Agency."

    Her father (David Keith) is also a telepath as a result of these experiments, who enjoys telekinetic abilities as well. These abilities help, but not well enough.

    Will Charlie be able to save her father? Herself? Will they make it through this, or be forever torn apart by the Firestarter?

    Excellent movie. Excellent performances by Drew Barrymore (if a little hesitant and deliberate at times), George C. Scott (hated, Hated, HATED his character!! that must mean he played it very very well *lol*), Martin Sheen and David Keith.

    The effects were quite good, though in post-StarWars 1984, I had hoped for better; as was the plot and storyline.

    As Stephen King adaptations go, it varied from the book just enough to make it one of the FEW adaptations of King's work through which I don't find myself cringing.

    It gets a solid 8/10 from...

    the Fiend :.
  • gridoon14 February 2002
    Good special effects and a great cast make this film above-average, as Stephen King adaptations go (well, it's certainly better than "Maximum Overdrive"). The story may be a bit predictable, partly because King had visited similar territory before ("Carrie", anyone?), but you have to admire the way the film puts you into the action right from the start, omitting any slow introductions, and George C.Scott is such a strong, perverse and eccentric villain that you can't help watching him. (**1/2)
  • DHMJr4 September 2002
    I am not going to make a long speech about this but the movie is much better than the votes would indicate. A good cast, decent story and and enjoyable to watch. It is also nice to see a young Drew Barrymore. She has turned out to be a pretty good little actress and moviemaker. Check it out.
  • Firestarter the movie and Firestarter the novel (written, of course, by Stephen King) have a common hindrance. Both are fine for their first half, with plenty of pace and action and even a few scares. But both book and film peter off in their second half, as the chase scenario which dominates the opening segment becomes a slow, tedious and frequently unconvincing cat-and-mouse affair set in a secret scientific centre known as The Shop.

    David Keith is a strange choice for Andy McGee, a father with mysterious powers (courtesy of an experiment gone wrong) whose daughter Charlie has even greater powers which enable her to set objects alight at will. The Shop want her so that they can kill her, as they have reason to believe she has no true control over her powers and may one day inadvertently nuke the planet Earth. As Charlie, Drew Barrymore is reasonably good, especially in the scenes where she gets mad and starts off a blaze. Best performance of the lot comes from George C. Scott, as a seemingly educated assassin who occasionally says something which hints that he well and truly out of his mind. It's a calculated and chilling display. Less worthy are the roles of Freddie Jones (bizarre and exaggerated) and Martin Sheen (bland and boring).

    I would say that Firestarter is worth catching if you're a fan of King or Barrymore, and although I shouldn't say this I'm sure pyromaniacs will revel in it. However, for the discerning audience there's little here worth making a special effort to see. It just comes and goes like the wind and, for want of a better word, doesn't really ignite.
  • camraman26 June 2000
    Here is another screen adaptation of a Stephen King literary work that has fallen short of it's potential to truly entertain. To read his work and then wait in high anticipation of the cinematic interpretation, only to be disappointed after viewing, can cause one to remain biased with screen adaptations. Though I was disappointed with the overall production of this movie, there are a few strong points I'd like to mention. I was thoroughly impressed with Drew Barrymore's acting ability at eight years of age. She was a natural and carried this movie. Because of the depth in which she played her character, I will give this movie a six- I give her acting a ten. A weaker actress would have made this movie more difficult to watch. Charlie Sheen and George C. Scott helped the movie along too. Otherwise the movie lacked the direction and mood that Stephen King usually generates in his books.
  • Firestarter (1984)

    ** (out of 4)

    Weak adaptation of the Steven King novel about a young child named Charlie (Drew Barrymore) who has the special power of being able to set things on fire by just using her thought. She's on the run with her father (David Keith) from various government people wanting to exploit her talent as she tries to control her gift. I haven't read the novel that this movie is based on so I can't comment on what this got right or wrong. However, I'm one who never expects a movie to follow the book 100% so with that in mind I can only say that this film is a complete mess. Thankfully this thing offers up an all-star cast including some legends because without them this film would be nearly impossible to get through. Clocking in just under two-hours, the film feels twice as long and I think a lot of the blame has to go to director Mark L. Lester. His direction is all over the place and not for a second did I feel any tension in the story and I also thought the pacing was pretty bad. I will say that not all of this might be his fault because the screenplay itself has a fair number of problems. One such problem is that the entire thing never really seems to know what it wants to do. Is it a horror film? Science fiction? Is it trying to be some sort of hard, negative look at the government and their powers? The film is all over the map in regards to what it's trying to do but sadly it doesn't do any of them very well. The performances are actually pretty good and are the best thing in the film. Barrymore delivers a strong and believable performance as the haunting girl and I've always liked Keith in just about everything he's done. Heather Locklear does a nice job in her scenes as the mother and we get vets like Martin Sheen and George C. Scott offering up fine performances. The highlight of the film deals with a couple farmers played by Art Carney and Louise Fletcher. Yes, FIRESTARTER has three Oscar-winning actors. The special effects are another plus and help give the film some energy. I must admit that the entire story struck me as being silly and especially early on as we see Keith's character getting nosebleeds from doing his psychic powers and Barrymore crying from setting people on fire. These scenes really made me laugh the majority of the time and once we keep seeing the same thing over and over it just gets boring.
  • Surprisingly I only saw this movie some 20 years after it first came out and I must say I was very surprised. I suppose one could say that this film plus Carrie was the for-runner (on screen that is) of such films as X-Men and Heroes on TV. The acting was superb. If you want to know who is a good actor and who is average see them in a death scene. The way Brian Keith acted when he found his wife dead brought tears to my eyes such was the realism. As for Drew Barrymore I continue to be astounded by her acting ability it is just a shame (though not in this case) that the films she is in do not do her ability justice. The special effects for the time (1984)is excellent and if you do not believe me watch the end of Firestarter and then watch X-men two (the bobby at home scene) and you will see what I mean. As for me the highest praise I can give this film is to say that as soon as I finished watching it I hit the internet and bought it on DVD.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I`ve only seen FIRESTARTER once and that was about 18 months ago on the Sci-fi channel . It`s mainly a forgettable movie with a plot that`s been reused a few times on THE X-FILES . It wasn`t until I was flicking through this site killing time that I remembered seeing it and would have totally forgotten seeing the movie in the first place if it wasn`t for the fact that this movie is disturbing and I don`t mean that in a good way

    !!!! MILD SPOILERS !!!!

    The story revolves around Andrew Mcgee and his daughter Charlene who are on the run from government spooks who are after Charlene because she has telekinetic abilities to make things combust . It`s a simple plot but there`s two elements to the story that disturbed me . One is the introduction of the main villain John Rainbird ( The McGees have been captured by the spooks at this point ) who in order to find out the secret of Charlene`s powers tries to gain her confidence . What I found so disgusting about this is that it`s like watching how a paedophile may manipulate a victim , it really made my skin crawl and considering Rainbird states he`ll personally kill young Charlene after he`s " Got what he`s wanted " the allusion to child molesting and child murder is complete . Okay I accept that the audience detesting Rainbird and wanting him to be cruelly killed is accepted as part of the drama but what I don`t accept is the number of people killed by the Mcgees who are just doing their job . This was the second reason I disliked the movie intensely , in several scenes government officials are burned to death after trying to arrest the Mcgees . Okay the McGees could claim self defence like the action sequence at the end where they flame the government base but if you heard on the news today that several government law enforcers were killed in the line of duty after trying to arrest suspected terrorists/criminals where would your sympathy lie ? Would it be the with the law enforcers or the suspected terrorists/criminals ? These scenes of fiery deaths are even more disturbing watching Charlene being played by the angelic child actress Drew Barrymore

    One other thing I can recall about FIRESTARTER is that the cast are wasted. Louise Fletcher and George C Scott both won Oscars in the 1970s ( Okay Scott turned his down but you know what I mean ) while there`s some classy support from character actors like Martin Sheen and Freddie Jones but ultimately I found myself asking what are these actors doing in such a low brow movie ? In fact FIRESTARTER is so bad I started wondering why Heather Locklear agreed to appear in it
  • nikkita-25 December 2000
    Drew Barrymore was great for the role of Charlie, she disguises her ability to light fires with her cuteness and innocent personality. David Keith was the protective father that would do anything to protect his daughter from the SHOP, even die. With a lot of cool scenes, the movie is one of the best movies I've seen, I would recommend it to anyone.
  • GOWBTW28 April 2006
    Those who can't stand the heat, don't watch this movie! Fresh from the movie E.T., Drew Barrymore stars in this movie as Charlene "Charlie" Mcgee a pyrokinetic or "Firestarter" for that. Stephen King book really intensified me. The movie is just as interesting. A great cast put up: George C. Scott(Patton, Mr. President, Mussolini:The Untold Story, etc.) Heather Locklear(T.J. Hooker, Melrose Place) Antonio Fargas(Starsky&Hutch) Charlie Sheen(Too Long to count) and others you might have know. The Shop is a very shady government group that builds certain guinea pigs with the formula LOT 6. Something quite similar to the Weapon X in Marvel Comics. Which Andy Mcgee(David Keith) telepathy and bore Charlie with pyrokinesis. When Charlie gets mad, you better look out, it's better to call the fire department when this action occurs. When Rainbird(Scott) killed the Capt.(Sheen) and Andy(Keith). Revenge really burns in the soul of Charlie. It really goes with the term, "YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!! She really burned The Shop down like it was no tomorrow, avenging her father is one way to release her anger towards "The Shop". Charlie makes all profession arsonists look like amateurs. She'll burn anything when others give up trying to cover their tracks. I've read the book, and I've seen the movie, if you can't take the heat, stay out of the theaters and the rentals! HAHA! 4 OUT OF 5 STARS.
  • Campy movies are serious-minded films made with little intentional humor which play all wrong on the screen, leading to unintended laughter. Such is the case with this deliriously silly adaptation of a Stephen King bestseller concerning a youngster who can start blazing fires with her mind (she talks to the flames to help us understand what's in her head: "Back off, just back off!"). Naturally, bad guys nab the child and hope to use her powers to start enemy warfare. Commendable work from David Keith as the kid's father and George C. Scott as a villain assigned to keep an eye on the precocious tyke, but little Drew Barrymore is in over her head, and the special effects are cartoonish and overripe. *1/2 from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a movie with not the best reputation out there. It feels and looks like a late sequel to Brian De Palma's "The Fury", which was still a movie I liked better than this one.

    Seems that one of the foremost reason why this movie isn't well liked is because it has some controversy in it. Drew Barrymore, who still was a 8 or 9 year old kid at the time, is killing a lot of people with her kinetic powers in this movie. Sort of the same reason why there was some controversy about "Kick-Ass" at the time. She kills by literally setting people on fire and blowing stuff up, with her powers (never thought I would ever been seeing Drew Barrymore blowing up George C. Scott). People tend to not like seeing kids doing stuff like that, even when it's in 'just' a movie. I personally have no problems with it, so it's nothing I hold against the movie but I of course can still see the reason why some people have issues with it.

    But still I also didn't liked this movie all that much. I was still really liking this movie during its first half, when it was being a movie in which the main characters were on the run but I really started to loose interest fast the moment they got captured and locked up for research. All of the pace and excitement seemed to be gone after that and the movie just never really recovered.

    You can definitely 'blame' the fact that this movie is being based on a book for that. I'm sure the story and character development and emotions all worked out fine in Stephen King's novel but it just isn't a type of story that translates well to the big screen. It makes too sudden big jumps in its story, has too many distracting and pointless sidetracks and characters and the contrasts between the first and second half of the movie are just too big. Apparently a remake of this movie is currently on the way but I have a scoop for you; It will bomb! The story just isn't good or interesting enough movie-wise and too many elements within it really don't work out too well on film.

    It's pretty amazing to see how much talent was involved with this movie, while at the same time it also had a quite low-budget. It's based on a novel by Stephen King, has action expert Mark L. Lester as director, Frank Capra Jr. and the Dino De Laurentiis Company behind the movie its production and it's starring David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Heather Locklear, Martin Sheen and George C. Scott. So lots of big names behind this movie, which make it perhaps a bit of an interesting 'failure' without at the same time calling this movie an horrible one though.

    No, it really is not an horrible movie by any means but it at the same time just isn't working out well either. It's a movie that you can definitely watch but when you don't, you're not missing much with it.

    6/10

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  • A lot of Stephen King's stories have been adapted for the screen. Many of them have actually been pretty good adaptations - some of them excellent. This, unfortunately, is one of the weaker adaptations of a Stephen King story. I suppose the first problem is that it's largely unoriginal. I've noticed that in a lot of Stephen King's work, actually. He tends to repeat the same basic themes and use the same basic structure over and over again. This is very similar to "Carrie" - a young girl who's able to start fires with her mind. Here, the ability stems from some government experiments done on her parents, who pass some of the abilities they developed in those experiments onto their daughter, who in turn takes those abilities one step farther. The story is pushed along by having young Charlie and her father pursued by government agents.

    One of the interesting things about this movie is the very strong and high profile supporting cast that backs up the leads - who are the then very young Drew Barrymore who plays Charlie, and the lesser known David Keith who plays her father. That supporting cast features the likes of George C. Scott and Martin Sheen and Art Carney among others. The movie revolved around Keith and Barrymore, though, and their desperate attempts to escape from the agents pursuing them. In all honesty, I didn't find either of them to be particularly convincing. Their performances didn't seem natural; sometimes Barrymore especially seemed rather forced. The supporting cast really didn't have enough to do to compensate for that weakness, although Scott was pretty good in his role.

    The movie ended on a rather silly note, to be honest. The final confrontation between Charlie and - well - basically everybody went way overboard. It was pretty exciting for maybe two minutes. Then it became quite uninteresting because it was just so predictable and yet it seems to go on for about ten minutes during which we see little but Charlie starting fires and blowing things up. After that over-excess of excitement, the final scene goes in exactly the opposite direction - it was anti- climactic in the extreme, in a way too jarring an emotional shift after the excessive mayhem. I guess it was intended to make the point that Charlie was about to blow the government's cover.

    To be blunt, this is rather a weak story. Stephen King fans might watch this out of curiosity, but there are many better Stephen King adaptations out there. (3/10)
  • I gave this a 10 cause i thought Drew was so adorable ! To imagine her playing a fire starter kid is so funny...I mean, I can see her trying to put on a mean face as an innocent young child. She was so hug-gable and irresistible in that movie. Oh about the movie, well it wasn't as good as I thought it'd be but its still deserving of a 10. Drew Barrymore, oh,..how I'd love to encore all her desires now that she's a grown woman. Even now she's so adorable. I'd love to meet her. She's so bubbly and naturally cheerful in an intelligent way. Then again, with such a successful career, who wouldn't be ?! he he..I gave this a 10 cause i thought Drew was so adorable ! To imagine her playing a fire starter kid is so funny...I mean, I can see her trying to put on a mean face as an innocent young child. She was so hug-gable and irresistible in that movie. Oh about the movie, well it wasn't as good as I thought it'd be but its still deserving of a 10. Drew Barrymore, oh,..how I'd love to encore all her desires now that she's a grown woman. Even now she's so adorable. I'd love to meet her. She's so bubbly and naturally cheerful in an intelligent way. Then again, with such a successful career, who wouldn't be ?! he he..
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Firestarter starts as Andrew McGee (David Keith) & his young daughter Charlene (Drew Barrymore) escape the clutches of some federal agent type guy's, you see a shadowy Governemt organisation called 'The Shop' conducted some experiments on Andrew & Charlene's mother Victoria (Heather Locklear) who then got together, had sex & ended up with Charlene who as a result of the experiments is a pyrokinetic & can start fires by just thinking about it. Now the evil guy's & gal's who run The Shop want Andrew for his own telekinetic abilities & Charlene for hers, Andrew knows they want to conduct experiments on himself & Charlene for their own evil purposes & is determined not to let The Shop get hold of them...

    Directed by Mark L. Lester & adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name Firestarter is fairly mean spirited but watchable horror/thriller. The script by Stanley Mann which takes itself very seriously is at it's most enjoyable during it's first half when Andrew & Charlene are on the run which is when it is pretty interesting & relatively absorbing, unfortunately the second half of the film switches gears completely & it becomes evil scientists vs. Charlene & lets face it there was only ever going to be one winner. I'm not happy about the long sequences of Charlene making people burn to death, I'm sorry but I felt no sympathy for her as a character & the scenes of these people burning, whether they had done anything to her or not, were pretty strong & Lester certainly likes to dwell on their pain & the screams they make as they burn. I usually love exploitation & the nastier the better but these parts in Firestarter just didn't sit well we me at all & thought they were gratuitous & unnecessary. The character's aren't great, the dialogue is OK & I didn't really see why they wanted to capture Andrew & Charlene so badly, I mean whose bright idea was it to suggest they could control her anyway? Ultimately what did they intend to do with her? It moves along at a reasonable pace & isn't too boring but I doubt I'd want to watch it anytime again soon.

    Director Lester does a good job, the suitably fiery climax is pretty brutal as Charlene dishes out some swift & severe punishment. Apparently Lester replaced John Carpenter who was originally set to direct but after the critical & financial failure of The Thing (1982), which coincidently is one of the biggest travesty's in cinematic history, the money men at Universal 'removed' him from the project. I wouldn't call it scary, it's not particularly creepy or exciting either but it does have a certain sinister atmosphere. There are some strong scenes of people being set on fire & burning to death here, the special effects do a great job perhaps even too great a job as they come across as excessive. Forget about any gore or violence as there isn't any.

    Shot in North Carolina & boasting a very healthy sounding budget of about $15,000,000 Firestarter has a very slick & professional look about it, it's well made with impressive fire effects & it has high production values. There's a surprisingly good cast here, Martin Sheen who took over from Burt Lancaster at short notice, Drew Barrymore who was riding high on the success of E.T. (1982), coincidently E.T. was the reason why The Thing bombed at the box-office, George C. Scott complete with comedy eye-patch & Heather Locklear are all probably recognisable to the average film-goer.

    Firestarter is a decent enough time waster, it's an OK Stephen King adaptation, it has a good cast & some impressive fire effects but as a whole it's average with a predictable & lightweight story that ultimately goes nowhere. Followed by the made-for-TV sequel Firestarter II: Rekindled (2002) which brings the villain John Rainbird back from the dead somehow...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I was about 14 and this film was released, I was obsessed with it. I thought Charley McGee had the most coveted powers on earth, to read others thoughts and to fry anyone who tried to hurt her or her family. A long time has passed but I have the DVD now and I have to say I never knew just what some of the critics were talking about when they panned the movie. I have read the book too and it's not 100% faithful, but I'd say it was at least 85 or 90 % like the Stephen King story. Not to mention the stellar cast, who all did MARVELOUS with their material. Martin Sheen was terrific, Art Carney and Louise Fletcher were wonderful, George C. Scott was menacing perfection, David Keith was probably the most impressive to me as the father who worried himself sick about his child...and the scenes where he had to go find his murdered wife were outstanding. And 8 year old Barrymore did a wonderful job. I love the music too of course, a moody ambient score by Tangerine Dream, but I thought the sound quality was a little disappointing. Apparently years and digital enhancements haven't helped. Still, this is, after over 2 decades, a cut above today's crappy ultraviolent horror offerings, and still a lot of fun to watch. I still can't see why the critics called it "wasted talent of a lot of the best actors". It's a really good movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm no fan of King books turned into movies(the exceptions being the shining, carrie and, a bit more mildly, this one). Firestarter lacks the sinister quality of the shining or the pure fine classic quality of a movie like Carrie but as far as thrillers go one can do a lot worse. I actually enjoyed this for what it is-an action packed thriller with wild special effects and an interesting plot. It held me from start to finish.

    There isn't much to dislike here as you are engrossed from the beginning. This maybe not a movie to go down in the thriller book of history but it certainly is watchable and quite interesting if you let yourself get swept away in the plot from the beginning. I'd solidly recommend this as a fun, at times riveting thriller that at least is never boring. My rating is 7 out of 10.
  • Till now I did not like Drew Barrymore too much, but after this movie where, as a nine years old girl, she nails leading role, she definitely enters my list of favorite actresses. Drew plays daughter of parents who, in their youth, participated in a government experiment, gained some abilities and then got married and brought to world daughter, whose extreme pyrokinetic abilities are just waiting to be triggered. The movie reminds of "Carrie" a little bit, but while "Carrie" focuses on horror angle, "Firestarter" is more of an action drama. The secret government agency is trying to capture this family, they kill mother (Heather Locklear), so father (David Keith) and daughter live on the run, until agents find them, attack them and all hell breaks loose. The movie keeps a balance between the dramatic display of inner fight between a sweet little girl and a killing machine and well-directed action scenes with good effects. Legendary Tangerine Dream were in charge of music and their eccentric compositions give a weird note to movie atmosphere. Overall, this is one of the best King adaptations I saw so far. I saw all King movies done before this one and several done after and only "The Shining", "Christine" and "The Shawshank Redemption" are better.

    8/10
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