Those of us who grew up in the 80’s were treated to a number of Stephen King adaptations including Firestarter. While it’s not the best of the bunch [Carrie takes that title] it is a well acted and enjoyable film. Drew Barrymore does a wonderful job as Charlie, an 8 year old girl with pyrokinetic powers. Barrymore is perfect for the role and is the emotional heart of the film. Her evil counterpart John Rainbird, is played to perfection by George C. Scott. He can go from sweet to sinister with the slightest change of facial expressions.
This dynamic duo is helped out by a wonderful cast of actors including Martin Sheen [The West Wing], David Keith [An Officer and a Gentleman] and small role appearances by Heather Locklear [Melrose Place], Art Carney [The Honeymooners], Louise Fletcher [Flowers in the Attic] and Antonio Fargas [Starsky & Hutch].
Director Mark L. Lester does a good job of keeping things moving along and is able to capture some wonderful performances from his actors. Firestarter is also greatly helped by Mike Edmonson [The Avengers, Iron Man] it’s pyrotechnical and special effects foreman. By 80’s standards all the fire scenes are first rate and they hold up well 30 years later.
The two weakest elements in Firestarter are the wind effect that is used every time Charlie starts a fire with her mental powers and the Tangerine Dream soundtrack. The first is just plain cheesy and looks like they are holding a blow dryer up to Barrymore’s face. The second is too tepid and Tangerine Dream's ambient synths fail to pack the musical punch this film needed in its most dramatic moments.
Firestarter has its critics, especially those who have read the book. But books and movies are two completely different entities and should be judged on their own merits. I’ve watched Firestarter several times over the years and found it enjoyable from start to finish. Don’t miss it!
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.