"Firestarter" (2022) Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Stephen King is known for being one of the most famous horror writers to ever live, as well as having an extensive list of films made off of his written works. Some of them have been great, such as "The Shining", "The Shawshank Redemption", and the 2017 adaptation of "It", to name a few. But there have been some films that do a horrible job of creating a film based off of his novels and short stories. Unfortunately, the 2022 adaptation of "Firestarter" totally misses the mark, and is perhaps near the bottom of King's long list of films.
The movie revolves around a little girl named Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who was born with a special gift - she can set things on fire by just using her mind. This comes from her parents, Andy (played by Zac Efron, which is weird to think he can pull off playing a dad now) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon), who both have powerful gifts. With Andy dying from his gift as he bleeds from his eyes when using it, he must find a way to help his daughter control her powers because it consumes her, like it did him.
When she is exposed by using her powers, Charlie and her dad must go on the run from the people who are hunting her down and want her for her powers. This leads them on a chase for most of the movie, meeting new people who want to both help and turn the little girl in. This forces Charlie to grow up, and realize that the decisions she makes not only affects her, but the people she loves around her.
This movie does start off strong. It kicks off at a fast pace and introduce the plot and characters right away, leaving nothing out. However, from there, the film moves at such a slow pace that the viewer feels like they're dozing off or losing interest. I lost interest in this movie's plot multiple times while watching it, and had to snap back into watching the movie before I miss anything. But the thing is, even if I was completely zoned out, I wouldn't have missed much.
It is surprisingly very boring and stiff for a Stephen King film. There doesn't really seem to be lots of action or surprises, and if you're like me, you just want the movie to end already, even when you still have half of the movie left. The plot just moves too slowly and rushes the important parts, leaving the viewer feeling unsatisfied and robbed of the great parts this movie could have contained.
At the same time, all of the actors in this movie felt wooden and like they didn't know they were in a big movie. Efron is perhaps the biggest star in this movie, and it felt like director Keith Thomas didn't know how to direct his actors. Efron seems confused the entire time in his movie, like he has no clue what is going on or what his next line will be. It's hard to say whether that is Efron's fault or not, but it was still a horrible performance nonetheless.
I feel like the little girl who plays the main character could have a lot of potential, but we don't see it at all throughout this movie. Her character is simply just very annoying and boring, and she does nothing really to make her a likable protagonist or hero. You don't feel bad for her whatsoever, and you actually start to think she is getting what she deserved in a way. She whines the entire movie, and has no regard for other people or human life in general, so why would the viewer feel inclined to like or care for this character?
The film ends with a bang (literally), but not a good bang. More of like a sad, boring, reaching at straws type of bang. The filmmakers had no purpose or reason to remake this film, and they should have just left it alone instead of totally ruining the movie and therefore the book of the same name. It's very disappointing actually, considering how filmmakers have been able to adapt King's books in a somewhat good way. But this just falls in the same category of the remake of "Pet Sematary", showing that filmmakers need to learn when to not remake or adapt something that simply doesn't need it.