I’m sure that we’re all familiar with Stephen King. His books are definitely popular and he has written a ton of them. They’re about as mainstream as you can get for older fiction and many of his titles have naturally gotten films and miniseries. Firestarter came out quite a long time ago so we’ll see if the story is as chilling and action packed as it used to be back in the day. I can say that the sound effects really hold up!
“mm mm mm mm” is a sound that you’ll never forget after watching this film! Well, the plot involves Andy McGee and his daughter Charlene as they try to evade the cops. ….Just kidding, these guys are actually from “The Shop,” but they are just as deadly. Andy possesses telepathy and some brief telekinesis or the technology equivalent while Charlene has advanced pyrotechnic abilities. Charlene is said to have the power to blow up an entire planet (Once she’s older) and Andy can definitely become a threat depending on who he comes into contact with. The Shop must recapture these individuals and use their abilities to create more meta humans and take down America’s enemies. All in a day’s work eh!?
The film definitely feels dated for some of the scenes, but I’m always ready for a retro adventure. The feel of the film also tips you off that it’s aiming at older audiences with the few death scenes that we get. The film actually isn’t very violent considering, but the guy who starts to blow up at the hospital and the wife’s demise keeps things in perspective. Most of the other deaths happen with special effects thanks to the fire that is being thrown around.
The fire effects are pretty fun to watch and you’ll feel like you’re watching a TV show with super humans. No matter how old or new the show is, live action episodes tend to be fighting on the same level so a fire blast in the 80’s from Charlene can hold up just as well as a fire blast from a villain in Agents of Shield or The Flash. It’s a good or bad thing for the medium depending on how you look at it, I enjoy the effects so I’d say that it’s pretty good and fire is one of the basic elements so it’s natural that it would be perfected fairly early in TV history.
The fight scene with Charlene at the end it pretty intense since we’ve been waiting for her to fight! The action scene is longer than I would have guessed and it’s also more impressive than I could have thought as well. Bullets definitely aren’t a good bet against her and Charlene is basically invincible at this point. The only thing that she has to worry about is the time that it takes for her to power up.
Charlene is about as decent as a kid can be, but I still don’t really care for protagonists that are kids. It works better in anime I’d say. In a film, it’s just hard to take a child seriously and Charlene is also very gullible when the situation starts to get dangerous. I felt bad for Andy because if the powers had been reversed, things could have been a lot different. Charlene’s powers are incredible, but then she decides to never use them against someone again….during a moment where the situation is even more dangerous than usual. It’s good not to destroy someone of course, but she should still use scare tactics and hurl fireballs to keep the enemies guessing.
Andy is a pretty decent main character although he doesn’t think things through as much as he should. His final scene comes to mind as a number of other commands would have been more effective than “Jump.” “Drop The Gun, Give Me The Gun, Throw The Gun, Shoot…..all of your bullets away,” etc. Beyond that, it’s hard not to like Andy when you consider his power. It’s very catchy since he basically says “mm mm mm mm” directly into your mind as he overcomes it. It was likely a directorial choice to add the sound effect, but maybe they asked Mr. King about it. Either way, it made his power a lot more interesting since that was a lot of fun. Andy definitely could have trained a little more though. He really scrunches up his face whenever he uses the ability so you can tell that he can’t keep it up for very long. (I felt bad for the Cab Driver since he’s going to go home a lot poorer than he thought!) Andy’s original scene in the hospital is super cheesy, but I’ll let it slide this time. He’s definitely a product of the 70’s/80’s and he’s got the accent to top it all off. He’s better than your average protagonist. Thinking about it….Andy may just not be hero material. After someone shoots Charlene with a sleeping dart…he doesn’t move away and Andy lets the guy shoot him as well. His reflexes are very slow.
John Rainbird is one of the main villains and he can definitely hurt the overall score. I dare say that he ended up bringing the score down from a 4-5 to 3 in the end. His scenes as he pretends to be a janitor are pretty painful to watch and you’re just waiting for him to take a loss the whole time. Again, Charlene was way too gullible here. John also has some mild resistance to the telepathy, which was disappointing, but it was partially Andy’s fault. John doesn’t have any redeemable qualities as a villain and he just pulled the film down.
The heroes get driven to a house by a nice resident at one point and I liked the guy. He was pretty sharp on the uptake and he was ready to defend the heroes. He was skeptical at first, but I would have been as well. The important thing is that he ultimately decided to help out and show the heroes what a true gunman is. He may have been knocked out of the fight pretty quickly, but the important thing is that he really tried.
Hollister could be called the main villain I suppose. He seems to be the highest ranking villain at “The Shop” and his ambitions are pretty great. He starts to play second fiddle towards the end though and he’s intimidated by John’s threats. He’s a much better villain than John, but I still can’t say that he was great. His plan was risky from the get go and he didn’t handle the Charlene situation very well. At least he takes a good amount of time out of his day to work on his haircut. It’s a start. We also have a doctor who is introduced at one point, but his most memorable scene is when he’s driving away on his trolley as he continues to look back to where Charlene is. It wasn’t his best move!
There isn’t really much of a soundtrack aside from the “mm mm mm mm” noises during the telepathy sessions. The effects are good though so that helps out as well. I don’t think it will end up being a terribly memorable film, but it was worth the trek. One final thing that reminds you that this is more of a retro film is one of the decisions that the villains make. As Charlene is blowing up a bunch of cars…a few of the men run towards one. This would prove to be their final mistake as it ended up exploding, but you have to wonder what they were thinking. They were seriously outgunned.
I do have to give the film a big thumbs up for one scene. Towards the end of the film, everything is burning so we think that the horses may be toast. Luckily, Charlene saves them and the camera makes sure to show you that they got away safely. It was a classy move on the film’s part and it shows that you can definitely avoid animal violence if you really want too. That was definitely a solid move.
Overall, Firestarter is an intriguing film. I dare say that it feels like an old school slasher during some parts of the film and more like a slice of life in others. The two main characters aren’t bad, but the villains range from slightly under average to terrible. The guy with the shotgun was pretty great although it was sad that he couldn’t do a little better in the gunfight. This is the film for you if you want a Supernatural type of adventure with escaped convicts and action. Still, you’ll have more fun watching DBZ Cooler’s Revenge if you want a story of a Saiyan overcoming hardship as he shows the world that he is more than human. As a sidenote, it’s interesting to wonder how Charlene would fair against the Avengers from the 2012 film. We can assume that a fireball would likely crush Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Captain America. Iron Man’s armor has been shown to be weak against fire and Thor had to dodge machine gun fire so I’m not sure how he would fair. Hulk could end up being the final obstacle and then it all depends on how long Charlene can evade him. Given time, I believe that she could defeat him as well. Still, I guess I would side with the Avengers if they all fought against her at once. (This is assuming that she is already in her awakened state of course, so no charge up is necessary)