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Reviews & Ratings for
Firestarter More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

O. K. Flick

Author: camraman ( from Oak Park, IL
26 June 2000

Here is another screen adaptation of a Stephen King literary work that has fallen short of it's potential to truly entertain. To read his work and then wait in high anticipation of the cinematic interpretation, only to be disappointed after viewing, can cause one to remain biased with screen adaptations. Though I was disappointed with the overall production of this movie, there are a few strong points I'd like to mention. I was thoroughly impressed with Drew Barrymore's acting ability at eight years of age. She was a natural and carried this movie. Because of the depth in which she played her character, I will give this movie a six- I give her acting a ten. A weaker actress would have made this movie more difficult to watch. Charlie Sheen and George C. Scott helped the movie along too. Otherwise the movie lacked the direction and mood that Stephen King usually generates in his books.

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More thought-provoking than thrilling

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
16 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Most Stephen King horror adaptations are entertaining, but the most disturbing ones are the ones dealing with psychic phenomena, like FIRESTARTER and THE DEAD ZONE. For me, the power of the human mind is more horrific than giant alien spiders, vampires, or serial killers. FIRESTARTER is indeed a powerful film, and the power lies in the actors involved, not just the fiery power of the special effects unit. Indeed, the strength of the characterisations are the best thing about this film.

Martin Sheen has much the same power-hungry role as he did in 1983's THE DEAD ZONE, while Freddie Jones has a small role as a nervous doctor. However, it is George C. Scott as the brilliant yet crazed man out to snag Barrymore's powers for himself in the afterlife who has the best role, and he really is totally evil. David Keith is an effective hero, while Heather Locklear has another small role as his wife. Drew Barrymore is also good as the young girl who doesn't want to use her powers but is forced to, and it's a wonder that she didn't use them to destroy the killer in SCREAM.

The story is also a fairly original one, and it's more of a thriller than a conventional horror film. The budget is relatively low until the pyrotechnic ending where just about everything explodes, and things do tend to get a bit talky. However there are some dollops of tension lashed throughout the film and plenty of interest lies within the various machinations of the characters. FIRESTARTER is a thought-provoking ride through the powers of the mind and probably not suitable viewing for those who have tendencies involving pyromania.

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One of the better King adaptations. Drew Barrymore is superb.

Author: NateWatchesCoolMovies from Canada
11 July 2016

Film versions of Stephen King novels can be a tricky thing. Often they're half assed, clunky miniseries (ever tried to sit down and watch The Langoliers??), and when they're given the lofty cinema treatment, he has famously turned his nose in the face of Kubrick's might. I feel like Firestarter escaped unscathed, and still holds to this day, if a bit achingly retro now. It's a thriller perceived in a childlike manner by its young protagonist, Charlie Mcgee (Drew Barrymore). Charlie can start fires with her mind, and certain shadowy agencies just can't wait to get their hands on her. Her father (David Keith) once participated in some scary drug testing related to telekinesis back in the day, and some of whatever altered his DNA has been passed on to her. He will do anything to protect her, as the two frantically race across the country to safety, pursued by forces working for Hollister (Martin Sheen), a spook with too much power and nasty ideas about what to do with it. Also on their trail is pseudo spiritual whacko John Rainbird, who wants to absorb Charlie's abilities, man what a freak. Rainbird is a native American in King's novel, so white haired yankee boy Scott is an odd choice, but he does a fine job all the same. Two things are what makes this one really stand out in a special way. Tangerine Dream provides yet another ultrasonic, elemental synth score that has since become legendary. It accents the story in an almost fairy tale like way, gilding the danger with a fable style sound, but never stamping out the real menace. Barrymore is the other leg of the table, giving one hell of a fierce and vulnerable performance for such a young girl, her childlike honesty a prism for the audience to see the evil around her through innocent eyes. It's great stuff, and one of the most solid King adaptations out there. Now there is a sequel (not sure if the man wrote a second book?) called Firestarter 2: Rekindled, which pales in comparison and runs about 45 minutes too long (!), but it's worth a look for the casting of Marguerite Moreau as a grown up Charlie, Malcolm McDowell taking over from Scott as Rainbird, and Dennis Hopper as well.

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Drew is an exceptional child actress

Author: kiaora-1 from United States
21 December 2015

Drew makes this movie. "Back off, back off!" George C. Scott as John Rain man is so good that you just can't help but to despise him. It's only a movie, but just the same, weird that John would believe that by killing little Charlie, he could take her power with him when he dies, although native Indian tribes probably had some of those same beliefs. It's also hard to believe that secret associations/companies like that of "The Shop" exist in the real world, but that could be true for whatever purpose or reason. The musical score was good too, particularly eerie during the scene where Charlie decimates the Shop/mansion and affiliates in the house and grounds.

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If you think King is just about horror you're a moron...

Author: Jharnden1 from United States
24 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Too many reviews on IMDb complain about this title not being scary. One talks about the first half being scary, but the second not. It's not supposed to be scary, horror scary at all, but is more in line with 1984 and the idea of government agencies overreaching. It is way more SciFi than horror with. Conspiracy theory thrown in for good nature. My biggest problem is George C. Scott as the antagonist who is supposed to be Native American. This is not a great film, nor is it a bad film. Watch and decide. It is A Stephen King film involving the Shop. It is therefore, connected to Golden Years and other stories. Keep in mind that it is not IT and it is not one of his multiple ghost stories. This is a psychological SciFi flick that borders on dystopian.

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"Not Bad Sci-Fi Flick!"

Author: gwnightscream from United States
13 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Heather Locklear, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher and Moses Gunn star in this 1984 sci-fi film based on Stephen King's novel. This begins where we meet Andy (Keith) and his young daughter, Charlene aka Charlie (Barrymore) who are on the run from government agents because they have special, psychological abilities. Andy is able to mind-control others and Charlie is able to set fire with her mind. Soon, they're captured and become experimented on with deadly results. Sheen (Wall Street) plays Capt. Hollister who keeps them under observation, the late, Scott (Patton) plays Rainbird, an assassin, the late, Gunn (The Neverending Story) plays scientist, Pynchot, the late, Carney (The Honeymooners) plays Irv, a farmer who helps Andy and Charlie, Fletcher plays his wife, Norma and Locklear appears briefly as Victoria, Charlie's mother who is killed. This isn't a bad flick featuring a decent cast & Tangerine Dream's score is great as usual. I recommend this.

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Stephen King's Version of "Scanners"

Author: gavin6942 from United States
17 October 2014

A couple who participated in a potent medical experiment gain telekinetic ability and then have a child (Drew Barrymore) who is pyrokinetic.

There is a decent cast with Martin Sheen as a villain (not unlike "The Dead Zone") and the always powerful presence of George C. Scott ("The Changeling"). We have decent shots from cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini, who has previously worked with Sergio Leone on "Duck, You Sucker" (1971).

Critic Vincent Canby wrote, "The screenplay, by Stanley Mann, bears more than a little resemblance to 'The Fury' which was directed by Brian De Palma, who made his first big commercial hit by directing the screen version of Mr. King's 'Carrie' which also had to do with brain power." This is, of course, a fair line of reasoning. "Firestarter" recalls David Cronenberg's "Scanners", but one could also see parallels with the films Canby mentions. In a way, there is something of a subgenre of psychokinetic horror films from the 1980s.

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Decent but nothing all that remarkable

Author: GL84 from Los Angeles, Ca
30 September 2014

Escaping from a secret lab and going on the run, a man and his daughter try to elude the assassins sent to harness their mental powers for a government project.

On the whole, this one isn't that bad and has some pretty good parts to it. One of the better issues here is the rather touching relationship between the killer and the girl while in the facility which is quite far removed from the prototypical assassin/target scenes as they touch off on more of a familial basis than expected. There's a lot of touching moments from the two together that's a little more chilling due to the deceptive nature of the double-cross that it ultimately turns into, and it adds a different dynamic to the scenes stuck in the compound. Those are overshadowed completely, though, by the film's spectacular finale which really lets the paranormal powers loose as she gets to display her powers to the fullest in destroying the entire complex. It's an extended, overlong sequence packed with action as equipment, soldiers and vehicles get blown up and blasted to pieces in fiery spectacle with fabulous excitement bursting out into the final half of the film. This really works up quite a few good points by helping to even out the one debilitating facet here which comes from the rather banal scenes of them in the compound. These aren't all that impressive as it consists of the company men standing around as they conduct various experiments and tests that aren't in the slightest bit scary or chilling with all sorts of rather pedestrian attempts to exploit their powers. His isn't all that scary and to put the kind of emphasis on him for the majority of the time while under capture doesn't have any kind of impact on that feeling in the movie so there's an extended amount of time where this doesn't feel like a true horror effort during these segments. It does knock the film slightly due to this, even though the positives do make up for plenty of these problems.

Rated R: Graphic Language, Violence and continuous children-in-jeopardy.

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interesting movie

Author: kai ringler from United States
9 January 2014

it's been at least 25 years since I seen this,, so I was looking forward to seeing this,, Martin Sheen was very good , George C. Scott stole the show however,, as Rainbird,, the hit-man/ janitor. Drew Barrymore was made a house hold name after this picture,, Heather Locklear plays her mother,, but sadly is only in the picture for 10-15 mins at the beginning,, A couple and a few other college age kids participate in some testing for telekinetic, and some will have side effects and develop powers. and some won't.. our main character has the power of getting people to do what he wants, and his young daughter is a pyrokinetic . overall an interesting watch,, hard to follow in some spots.. but nonetheless very interesting picture,,, I'm not going to get into comparing the book with the movie.

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Okay version of a Stephen King story; Drew Barrymore

Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
8 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have mixed feelings about this film. And when you think of the Stephen King projects that have become films...that's pretty mixed, too. A few have been very good. A few awful. And others somewhere in between. And that's where this one between.

First off, you have the special effects. Considering this was made 30 years ago, they're darned good. So that gets an A.

Then there's the cast...notable cast. David Keith as the dad...well, he was okay. Drew Barrymore as the firestarter...stunning, and only 9 years old when this was made! Freddie Jones as one of the scientists with a little bit of conscience was long as he lasted. A young Heather Locklear does what she does best...looks beautiful. Martin Sheen as the head of the project was quite good. George C. Scott...well, I'm a pretty big fan of him...but I wasn't that impressed with him here...and I can't think of the last time I said that! Art Carney is fun to watch here. As is Louise Fletcher. Moses actor I had forgotten about; good to see him again, here as one of the scientists.

In terms of the script. Well, not too bad, not great. The problem with the story is that you already know what the ending of the film is going to be -- a prepubescent Carrie-like fiery finale. So the question is, will the director make getting there interesting. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some good dialog, some dialog that almost made me laugh out loud.

So, it's sort of a draw. Not bad, not great, just in between. Worth a watch to see Drew Barrymore and the special effects.

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