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Firestarter is an unnecessary remake 

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth, Anna? Don’t bother

What’s it worth, Glen? Don’t bother

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10, and streaming on Peacock

Keith Thomas (The Vigil) directs Scott Teems' (Halloween Kills) script based on Stephen King's novel about a young girl with the power to ignite fire through telekinetic power. Married couple Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky McGee (Sydney Lemmon) both acquired limited telekinetic powers during government experiments, but their daughter Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) has the frightening power of pyrokinesis, and the government wants to control her. (94 min.)

click to enlarge BURNT In this remake of the 1984 film based on Stephen King’s novel, Firestarter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) has the power of pyrokinesis, and the government wants it. But can her father protect her? - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • BURNT In this remake of the 1984 film based on Stephen King’s novel, Firestarter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) has the power of pyrokinesis, and the government wants it. But can her father protect her?

Glen File this one under the rapacious and unnecessary remake category. There's absolutely nothing about this new version that warrants its existence—and it's not like the 1984 original had no room for improvement. It was a middling sci-fi thriller based on one of Stephen King's more mediocre works. What a wasted opportunity! This time around we have Armstrong standing in for Drew Barrymore, who out-cutes the newcomer by miles. Efron, who ought to be contemplating firing his agent, takes on the role originally held by David Keith. The stories are basically interchangeable, so why even bother? As far as I can tell, it's just a money grab. What I'm more concerned about is that screenwriter Scott Teems, who added to the Halloween franchise with the so-so Halloween Kills (2021), has been tapped to write a sequel to the original The Exorcist (1973), which may turn into a trilogy, and Ellen Burstyn has agreed to return as Chris MacNeil, Regan's mom. For the love of why?!

Anna I consider myself a King "Constant Reader," and even I found this retelling a complete bore. While I refuse to participate in a cuteness contest between young Barrymore and Armstrong, I can say that either performance or nostalgia has me preferring the former in the role hands down. That said, Armstrong is a talented young actress and, along with the rest of the cast, her talents are wasted here. I just don't know how this got through the hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours it takes to make a movie—surely someone along the way had the thought of, "What are we doing here? And more importantly, why?" When the highlight of a movie is that it is pretty short in length, you're in trouble. This still felt long to me. Not even the thought of staring into Efron's bleeding baby blues would make me give this remake a second watch.

Glen I'm reticent of offering any praise for this dumpster fire of a film, but it does boast a moodily effective synth-driven John Carpenter film score, and Michael Greyeyes as telekinetic government operative Rainbird comes off as a quasi-interesting antihero. Beyond that, it's just a snooze. I wish I had more to say about it, but writing this review two days after viewing, the film has already faded into brain ether. It's simply dreadful and unmemorable. If you have Peacock, which is streaming the film, and you really want to see it, take your 94 minutes and squander them at your own discretion, but I can't in good conscience suggest ponying up hard-earned money and seeing this in a theater. What a waste.

Anna The score was cool; I'll give Carpenter praise for that. But otherwise, the movie is straight-up boring, unoriginal, and completely dismissible. Sometimes when a film is a bust, it's actually fun to pan it in a

review, but alas, this one doesn't even give us that joy. Charlie's seething anger at being unable to use or reveal her gift/curse is the most interesting thing going on, and when it gets unleashed, what should be a big "wowza" moment just doesn't pay off. Even with a Peacock subscription, I can't recommend that you give up your time for this one. If you really want a Firestarter fix, go for the original. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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