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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.9%
Worth A Look: 19.05%
Average: 19.05%
Pretty Bad: 21.43%
Total Crap28.57%

2 reviews, 30 user ratings

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by Dr. Isaksson

"Burn Baby Burn!"
2 stars

With a budget somewhere around 14 million dollars and headlining big names like George C. Scott, Martin Sheen and the little 'ET girl' Drew Barrymore, 1984's "Firestarter" had all the makings for being a nicely executed, big blockbuster action film. Well.. It wasn't. In fact it was drawn out, unnecessarily long and had many moments where the scenes became so repetitious with the dialogue that I was just waiting for a fire to start so I had SOMETHING to pay attention to. I am a patient person but for me to try and watch all 115 mins of "Firestarter" I started feeling like I had ADD or something...

Penned by Horror novelist extraordinare Stephen King and featuring an interesting subject about a genetically mutated Father and daughter who have special powers, Firestarter starts out with a chase scene. Andrew McGee (David Keith) and his young daughter Charlie (Drew Barrymore), are making an escape from 'The Men in suits' who are trying to kidnap them. Andy and his daughter are of great interest to these Government officials and they want them captured and studied. But the two McGees manage to elude their chasers and take up residence in a motel. it's here that through Andy's dreams we see how this whole situation came about. Andrew was part of a test group of people who are being injected with a chemical compound called 'Lot 6'. It's an experimental hallucinatory drug. Some of them received the chemical, some did not. Nobody knew. It's here, while at the test lab, that Andrew meets a woman named Vickie (Heather Locklear), the two instantly hit it off (a bit too fast, but I guess that's not the important issue here) they are married and have a daughter who can create fires with her mind. Andrew has also gained a power from the 'Lot 6' and that is of mind control. He can get people to do his bidding whenever he puts his hands to his head and gives out an order. Pretty nice power except he gets a tiny aneurysm every time he does it and bleeds from his nose. ( I bet that gets frickin' annoying. )

So now the chase continues and the McGees reach the farm of an old married couple played by Oscar winners (Art Carney and Louise Fletcher). The two make quick friends with the misfits but soon enough the men in suits show up and try to take the McGees with them. But for some reason they didn't expect to bring any fire proof suits or just didn't think enough before they came because Charlie lets loose her control over fire and blows up a car or two and sets some of the poor bastards on fire. There are a couple of good effects here but still nothing ground breaking. So after being able to knock down 'The men in suits', 'The Shop' gets a bounty hunter type guy named John (George C. Scott) to seek out Andy and Charlie and sure enough, he successfully completes his mission and returns to 'The Shop' where the McGees are drugged, separated and then studied.

Poor Charlie is taken to a fireproof room where she is forced to use her powers on such objects as a tray of woodblocks, which she ignites easily, then a tub of ice which she gets to a boil, and then she gets a brick wall which she heats up so strongly it combusts into rubble. These scenes where Charlie's powers are shown are hardly an exciting thing but I suppose it's all interesting. The real problem lies in the deplorable acting by Martin Sheen and the supporting cast. Sheen's great lines consist of. "Wow! Did you see that?" and "She set the blocks on fire!" Come to think of it, I think I've seen better acting from an episode of Wonder Woman. So after the McGees are locked for a decent length of time, it's enevetable that Andy devises a way to escape. And the end result is a mediocre fire festa as Charlie lets loose her fierce flames. That's about it.

Well, despite getting a major billing and this being her first film, Heather Locklear is only in it for about 10 minutes. Hmm... There's a rating star off the film right there. The performances are defiantly lacking. Really nothing better here than you would find on an episode of the A-Team. The bad guys who work at the factory are all these dorky ass looking men who can't act and dess in bad suits. ( One of the guys in suits is the famous stunt man Dick Warlock who played Michael Myers in Halloween II ). The acting and plot are laughable at times. It's hard to fathom George C. Scott as a ruthless killer, he's a bit too long in the tooth for such a role and he isn't very menacing. David Keith is ok as Andrew McGee and he mastered the phrase "You son of a bitch." with a country twang to perfection. Surprisingly I'd say that Drew Barrymore gives the best performance in the film as the girl who cannot control her fires. In fact, if I were to place her latest work in films up to her acting in Firestarter, I'd say they pull about even. Let's just admit that Drew will never be a great actress by any means. But she is pretty good here. Wish I could say the same about the rest of the cast or the film itself.

The set design consists of nothing more than a White House looking place where Charlie and her Dad are held prisoner in. Not a very exciting setting. The special effects are in the typical 80's style. Nothing too unusual or stylistic. I respect the work that went into the effects, I just didn't get too thrilled by it. Although anything that isn't CGI is respectable. The cast doesn't offer much and the script is shady and uneven. Scenes that should be short are long and pointless and scenes that are short feel as thought they should go on much longer. Disappointing considering the budget spent. I've noticed that it's not about how much money a film has for special effects but the Director's overall talents to take control over the effects and deliver an exciting film with the talents he possesses.

John Carpenter was supposed to direct Firestarter but because of his 1982 flop The Thing, he was dumped by the studio and went on to direct Christine instead. To whomever fired John, I give you a big 'Thank You'! The world of cinema gained another 80's classic with Christine.

Firestarter just didn't work. ** 2 Stars

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originally posted: 08/11/03 12:52:02
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell lame rips off THE FURY BURN IT 1 stars
12/05/11 Pamela White good adaptation of the King novel 4 stars
11/09/08 action movie fan good idea, but sluggish pace and forgettable characters means this does not catch fire . 3 stars
1/27/08 Pamela White classic King and Drew has a good role 4 stars
11/24/06 Jeff Anderson A waste of time(even for an 80's film)& dull. Cast(especially Keith) deserves a lot better! 1 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty Nice and interesting 4 stars
4/12/06 ES Yeah as a kid I loved this movie 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Great movie, a classic King! 4 stars
10/28/04 Tyler Arsenault It was quite good compared to the imagination of Mark Lester's other films 3 stars
2/10/04 zoran very good movie 5 stars
1/12/04 Samuel good 3 stars
11/05/03 American Slasher Goddess Actually, pretty good. I liked it. 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Godawful King adaptation. Inept on just about every level. 1 stars
10/20/02 Charles Tatum Pure camp with one great cast 4 stars
9/06/02 R.W. Welch Too hoked up to be effective, lacks the needed ominous quality. 3 stars
7/30/02 natasha robson shit , it just sucked and all i did the whole way through was fuck Sam 1 stars
7/30/02 nikki robins it wasn't very interesting 2 stars
6/09/02 lorenzo i liked this movie alot that i can see it over and over again 5 stars
3/30/02 George R Atwood Great PSI effects very nice book to movie 5 stars
10/08/01 Andrew Carden Very Very Scary Movie For It's Time. 4 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean I liked it as a kid. Now I only like it because it's a part of my childhood memories. 3 stars
6/20/01 Elvisfan Waste of f/x and some great actors like Art Carney & George C. Scott 3 stars
3/22/01 Sthenno A sloppy,directed film with average effects and crappy acting. 2 stars
2/12/01 Leather jacket Don't fuck with little Drew Barrymore...she'll toast you 5 stars
5/18/00 Keith George C Scott lost a bet and had to play the indian. 2 stars
5/10/00 steve woodard it rocks 5 stars
10/07/99 sophia962 Long before Hollywood "got" Stephen King. Read the book instead. 3 stars
9/17/99 strike One of Drew's biggest mistakes when she was a little girl. 1 stars
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  02-Feb-1984 (R)

  02-Feb-1984 (15)

  02-Jul-1984 (MA)

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