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Reviews & Ratings for
Firestarter More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is very good!!!

Author: mjarvis0 from United Kingdom
21 July 2007

Surprisingly I only saw this movie some 20 years after it first came out and I must say I was very surprised. I suppose one could say that this film plus Carrie was the for-runner (on screen that is) of such films as X-Men and Heroes on TV. The acting was superb. If you want to know who is a good actor and who is average see them in a death scene. The way Brian Keith acted when he found his wife dead brought tears to my eyes such was the realism. As for Drew Barrymore I continue to be astounded by her acting ability it is just a shame (though not in this case) that the films she is in do not do her ability justice. The special effects for the time (1984)is excellent and if you do not believe me watch the end of Firestarter and then watch X-men two (the bobby at home scene) and you will see what I mean. As for me the highest praise I can give this film is to say that as soon as I finished watching it I hit the internet and bought it on DVD.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Great Cast but the Film is a Flop

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
1 October 2012

Firestarter (1984)

** (out of 4)

Weak adaptation of the Steven King novel about a young child named Charlie (Drew Barrymore) who has the special power of being able to set things on fire by just using her thought. She's on the run with her father (David Keith) from various government people wanting to exploit her talent as she tries to control her gift. I haven't read the novel that this movie is based on so I can't comment on what this got right or wrong. However, I'm one who never expects a movie to follow the book 100% so with that in mind I can only say that this film is a complete mess. Thankfully this thing offers up an all-star cast including some legends because without them this film would be nearly impossible to get through. Clocking in just under two-hours, the film feels twice as long and I think a lot of the blame has to go to director Mark L. Lester. His direction is all over the place and not for a second did I feel any tension in the story and I also thought the pacing was pretty bad. I will say that not all of this might be his fault because the screenplay itself has a fair number of problems. One such problem is that the entire thing never really seems to know what it wants to do. Is it a horror film? Science fiction? Is it trying to be some sort of hard, negative look at the government and their powers? The film is all over the map in regards to what it's trying to do but sadly it doesn't do any of them very well. The performances are actually pretty good and are the best thing in the film. Barrymore delivers a strong and believable performance as the haunting girl and I've always liked Keith in just about everything he's done. Heather Locklear does a nice job in her scenes as the mother and we get vets like Martin Sheen and George C. Scott offering up fine performances. The highlight of the film deals with a couple farmers played by Art Carney and Louise Fletcher. Yes, FIRESTARTER has three Oscar-winning actors. The special effects are another plus and help give the film some energy. I must admit that the entire story struck me as being silly and especially early on as we see Keith's character getting nosebleeds from doing his psychic powers and Barrymore crying from setting people on fire. These scenes really made me laugh the majority of the time and once we keep seeing the same thing over and over it just gets boring.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Better Than Votes Indicate

Author: DHMJr from Atlanta
4 September 2002

I am not going to make a long speech about this but the movie is much better than the votes would indicate. A good cast, decent story and and enjoyable to watch. It is also nice to see a young Drew Barrymore. She has turned out to be a pretty good little actress and moviemaker. Check it out.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Unremarkable 80's thriller

Author: william_morris from Kansas City, MO, United States
21 December 2016

Although the script hits all the major beats and is a reasonably faithful adaptation, for those who have read the novel upon which the movie is based the story will feel rushed and frequently awkward. On its own merits, though, it's a decent enough thriller. Drew Barrymore gives a good performance for one so young, and the casting choices for Rainbird, Wanless, and "Cap" are perfect. I do miss Rainbird's backstory; his feelings toward Charlie would make much more sense, but that's a relatively minor thing. It's always tough to cut a novel of that scope down to a two hour film, but if the film has one major flaw it is the soundtrack, a hopelessly dated synth score that was "awesome" in my high school years, but seriously distracts now.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
27 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Andy and his little girl Charlie are on the lam as the film opens escaping federal agents bent on capturing her and killing him. The reasons behind the chase is that Charlie(Drew Barrymore) has an astonishing gift inherited from her parents who were part of some sort of governmental experiment which went awry. Andy(David Keith, the heart and soul of this film)has the ability to force people to do his bidding through telekinesis, but it comes with a price..he is slowing hemorrhaging his brain, bit by bit as he performs his ability. His wife was also a part of this experiment, but she was killed by the agents. Charlie, thanks to her genes, even has greater power, somehow gaining the ability to set anything on fire she puts her focus on. The government might obviously be interested in this and Captain Hollister(the reliable Martin Sheen)sees a chance to restart the LOT 6 project(which is the name for the experiments performed on Andy and his wife). He'll need his men to catch them first and calls on assassin Rainbird(George C Scott,,who steals the film easily with his madman with skills at befriending the young girl and really relaxed with killing anyone)to get them. Rainbird will follow Hollister's command but wants a guarantee that he gets Charlie once the experiments they wish her to perform are complete. But, first Rainbird will quieten Doctor Wanless(Freddie Jones), the man whose drug is behind the kenesis both Andy and Charlie have. He threatens to expose Hollister and his group and will have to be done in. That's also what Andy wishes, to expose LOT 6 and bring them down for their making him and his daughter's life miserable..and, especially for the death of their beloved Vicky(Heather Locklear, who was so young and beautiful). But, Rainbird finds them, knocking them out with a sedative bullet which will end their desperate flee from the agents. Once separated, Andy will have to find a way to save he and his daughter from these pack of wolves who want to exploit their gifts and discard them. But, the interest in Charlie is so great, they keep Andy alive(although, they keep him repeatedly drugged and out of the picture)and Rainbird goes undercover as an orderly so that he can earn Charlie's trust. He plans to kill her once the Hollister experiments are over.

Flawed, but entertaining King adaptation never quite explains how Charlie can whisk flame out of nowhere and hurl fireballs. I always wondered why her hair always catches wind when the flame is "called on." The Charlie character is starting to control the flame more and more, but I wonder how anyone could possess such control to hurl flame. I guess I desired more understanding regarding her incredible abilities, but make no bones about it, this film is clearly about technical thrills rather than a cohesive, intelligent plot. We want to see this little girl tossing fireballs at those government a/holes who did her an injustice. The film allows us to see just a bit of what her power can unleash when Charlie and Andy momentarily have a place to stay with Irv and Norma Manders(Art Carney & Louise Fletcher..both, to be honest, are wasted)until agents storm the residence about to take them by force. But, when harm comes to daddy, Charlie sends "The Shop" into a fiery doom which is probably the highlight of any pyrotechnic artist who takes pleasure in their craft of hitting building with explosive fireballs and setting lots and lots of stunt people on fire.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful flight of fancy

Author: BluxMax from United States
6 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was disappointed to read some of the other comments about this film. It seems that some people chose to see this film because it was written by one of their favorite authors or starred a favorite actor. I've never understood paying money to see a sci fi film based on who was involved in the production. I enjoy sci fi films that transport me to a different time or place and enable me to escape life for a while.

This film presents a few fascinating ideas. Some of these concern the possibility that our pituitary glands can be manipulated in ways that would enable us to accomplish some very strange and terrible things. The ideas seemed completely unique and extremely interesting to me. What a wonderful change from the same old tired Hollywood formats. Kudos to all the creative people involved in the production of this film. I loved it.

Someone made a negative remark about Drew's performance. I found that very disappointing. She was nine when this film was made and I think her performance was one of the best I've ever seen for a nine year-old. She was only nine years-old for crying out loud!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Decent Stephen King adaptation.

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
13 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Firestarter starts as Andrew McGee (David Keith) & his young daughter Charlene (Drew Barrymore) escape the clutches of some federal agent type guy's, you see a shadowy Governemt organisation called 'The Shop' conducted some experiments on Andrew & Charlene's mother Victoria (Heather Locklear) who then got together, had sex & ended up with Charlene who as a result of the experiments is a pyrokinetic & can start fires by just thinking about it. Now the evil guy's & gal's who run The Shop want Andrew for his own telekinetic abilities & Charlene for hers, Andrew knows they want to conduct experiments on himself & Charlene for their own evil purposes & is determined not to let The Shop get hold of them...

Directed by Mark L. Lester & adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name Firestarter is fairly mean spirited but watchable horror/thriller. The script by Stanley Mann which takes itself very seriously is at it's most enjoyable during it's first half when Andrew & Charlene are on the run which is when it is pretty interesting & relatively absorbing, unfortunately the second half of the film switches gears completely & it becomes evil scientists vs. Charlene & lets face it there was only ever going to be one winner. I'm not happy about the long sequences of Charlene making people burn to death, I'm sorry but I felt no sympathy for her as a character & the scenes of these people burning, whether they had done anything to her or not, were pretty strong & Lester certainly likes to dwell on their pain & the screams they make as they burn. I usually love exploitation & the nastier the better but these parts in Firestarter just didn't sit well we me at all & thought they were gratuitous & unnecessary. The character's aren't great, the dialogue is OK & I didn't really see why they wanted to capture Andrew & Charlene so badly, I mean whose bright idea was it to suggest they could control her anyway? Ultimately what did they intend to do with her? It moves along at a reasonable pace & isn't too boring but I doubt I'd want to watch it anytime again soon.

Director Lester does a good job, the suitably fiery climax is pretty brutal as Charlene dishes out some swift & severe punishment. Apparently Lester replaced John Carpenter who was originally set to direct but after the critical & financial failure of The Thing (1982), which coincidently is one of the biggest travesty's in cinematic history, the money men at Universal 'removed' him from the project. I wouldn't call it scary, it's not particularly creepy or exciting either but it does have a certain sinister atmosphere. There are some strong scenes of people being set on fire & burning to death here, the special effects do a great job perhaps even too great a job as they come across as excessive. Forget about any gore or violence as there isn't any.

Shot in North Carolina & boasting a very healthy sounding budget of about $15,000,000 Firestarter has a very slick & professional look about it, it's well made with impressive fire effects & it has high production values. There's a surprisingly good cast here, Martin Sheen who took over from Burt Lancaster at short notice, Drew Barrymore who was riding high on the success of E.T. (1982), coincidently E.T. was the reason why The Thing bombed at the box-office, George C. Scott complete with comedy eye-patch & Heather Locklear are all probably recognisable to the average film-goer.

Firestarter is a decent enough time waster, it's an OK Stephen King adaptation, it has a good cast & some impressive fire effects but as a whole it's average with a predictable & lightweight story that ultimately goes nowhere. Followed by the made-for-TV sequel Firestarter II: Rekindled (2002) which brings the villain John Rainbird back from the dead somehow...

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This one held me from start to finish.

Author: triple8 from Conn
15 March 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm no fan of King books turned into movies(the exceptions being the shining, carrie and, a bit more mildly, this one). Firestarter lacks the sinister quality of the shining or the pure fine classic quality of a movie like Carrie but as far as thrillers go one can do a lot worse. I actually enjoyed this for what it is-an action packed thriller with wild special effects and an interesting plot. It held me from start to finish.

There isn't much to dislike here as you are engrossed from the beginning. This maybe not a movie to go down in the thriller book of history but it certainly is watchable and quite interesting if you let yourself get swept away in the plot from the beginning. I'd solidly recommend this as a fun, at times riveting thriller that at least is never boring. My rating is 7 out of 10.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Drew Barrymore, the most powerful X-Men of them all.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
29 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie with not the best reputation out there. It feels and looks like a late sequel to Brian De Palma's "The Fury", which was still a movie I liked better than this one.

Seems that one of the foremost reason why this movie isn't well liked is because it has some controversy in it. Drew Barrymore, who still was a 8 or 9 year old kid at the time, is killing a lot of people with her kinetic powers in this movie. Sort of the same reason why there was some controversy about "Kick-Ass" at the time. She kills by literally setting people on fire and blowing stuff up, with her powers (never thought I would ever been seeing Drew Barrymore blowing up George C. Scott). People tend to not like seeing kids doing stuff like that, even when it's in 'just' a movie. I personally have no problems with it, so it's nothing I hold against the movie but I of course can still see the reason why some people have issues with it.

But still I also didn't liked this movie all that much. I was still really liking this movie during its first half, when it was being a movie in which the main characters were on the run but I really started to loose interest fast the moment they got captured and locked up for research. All of the pace and excitement seemed to be gone after that and the movie just never really recovered.

You can definitely 'blame' the fact that this movie is being based on a book for that. I'm sure the story and character development and emotions all worked out fine in Stephen King's novel but it just isn't a type of story that translates well to the big screen. It makes too sudden big jumps in its story, has too many distracting and pointless sidetracks and characters and the contrasts between the first and second half of the movie are just too big. Apparently a remake of this movie is currently on the way but I have a scoop for you; It will bomb! The story just isn't good or interesting enough movie-wise and too many elements within it really don't work out too well on film.

It's pretty amazing to see how much talent was involved with this movie, while at the same time it also had a quite low-budget. It's based on a novel by Stephen King, has action expert Mark L. Lester as director, Frank Capra Jr. and the Dino De Laurentiis Company behind the movie its production and it's starring David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Heather Locklear, Martin Sheen and George C. Scott. So lots of big names behind this movie, which make it perhaps a bit of an interesting 'failure' without at the same time calling this movie an horrible one though.

No, it really is not an horrible movie by any means but it at the same time just isn't working out well either. It's a movie that you can definitely watch but when you don't, you're not missing much with it.


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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A GREAT movie

Author: nikkita-2 from Australia
5 December 2000

Drew Barrymore was great for the role of Charlie, she disguises her ability to light fires with her cuteness and innocent personality. David Keith was the protective father that would do anything to protect his daughter from the SHOP, even die. With a lot of cool scenes, the movie is one of the best movies I've seen, I would recommend it to anyone.

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