Firestarter review

While this is just, ostensibly, another in the long long line of recent King remakes (with so many more in the work) I was hopeful for this movie.  While, unfortunately, I haven’t seen it (yet!), I have heard nothing but great things about director Keith Thomas’s previous feature Vigil.

But then the movie released to fairly poor review with a paltry 11% on Rotten Tomatoes and dashed my hopes a bit but I decided to catch it late one night. Sitting alone in the theatre (an experience I truly love – it’s either gotta be packed to the gills, or just little old me), and, as it turns out.  I think the RT score is deeply unfair. The audience score of 46 is a little more justified but, honestly, I feel even that is a little low. I enjoyed this movie.

Sure, some characters make decisions, or jump to conclusions in odd and very plot-convenient/progressing way. I feel like her “training montage” didn’t really convey the journey to me. It felt very sudden that she just knew how to use all the powers but other than that the movie expresses itself fine and the story moves along at a good clip. Efron is solid as the dad (which makes me feel old) and young Ryan Kiera Armstrong carries the film very well.

On the filmmaking side, it’s well shot and well paced. It reminds me a little, stylistically, of the horror movies from the early aughts, staccato editing, jarring cuts, and lots of dutch angles. Even the licensed music – used sparingly early on – reminds me a little bit of those days too. It’s not a bad thing, I like a lot of movies from that time, just something I felt while watching it.  Speaking on the music, though, John Carpenter (yeah!) does a great job.  I really enjoyed the score – and it felt contemporary.  It kept the energy and emotion high and brought the movie together nicely.

I could have used more on screen effects and blood and gutts but the movie has some, and the CGI and practicals are all pretty decent, just would have liked a little more. It has an R rating but doesn’t really lean into it. 

I don’t remember exactly how the book ends, it’s been ages since I read it but there was a major plot point in the finale that really bothered me felt like it took something away from meaning behind it. (At the risk of spoilers – I’ll just say: agency)

But overall the finale is a good badass fiery romp and caps the movie off nicely. Wish it went a little bigger but that’s not much of complaint.

I enjoyed this movie about as much as I’d hoped early on and much more than I let the critics make me feel after it’s initial release.  I’m glad I watched it and commend the cast and crew on job admirably done. It’s not perfect but it entertained me, and that’s all it was trying to do.

Written by Mark Wilmot