Originally airing as a Sci-Fi Channel original movie/mini-series, "Firestarter 2: Rekindled" is the only sequel to "Firestarter," a little horror movie from 1984 that was based on a Stephen King novel and starred a very young Drew Barrymore as the title character. Arriving 18 years later and stretched out to nearly three hours, "Rekindled," re-writes history, re-making the previous film through flashbacks as it goes along. To say it takes liberties with its source material would be an understatement.
Since this is 2002, and Drew Barrymore has better things to do, the role of Charlie McGee has been re-casted with Marguerite Moreau, who will certainly ring a bell to fans of "The Mighty Ducks." Malcolm McDowell of "A Clockwork Orange" fame steps into the shoes of George C. Scott and looks even less Native American as John Rainbird, the manipulative megalomaniacal psychopath who exploited Charlie in the past and who, like Sam Loomis in "Halloween," can't shake his past obsessions, no matter what cost it comes at. Aside from spending the first half catching you up in case you didn't see the first movie (and offending you by assuming you are stupid if you have), "Rekindled" finds there to be more survivors of the "Lot 6" program, which used human beings to test mind-expanding drugs, which had an adverse effect on their psychological well-being. It's the job of Vincent Sforza (Danny Nucci) to track these people down so they can receive the rewards of a class action lawsuit (a.k.a. a brutal and swift cover-up death) and once he realizes something is awry, helps Charlie once again escape the clutches of Rainbird and his cronies, as well as fending off a group of genetically engineered "Super-Kids," who serve merely as plot devices and filler. Also, there's Dennis Hopper as a tortured psychic who was obviously only written into the script so that his name could appear in the credits, possibly lending credibility to this sequel.
All these little sub-plots do well enough to pad out the length of the "film," but for the most part, it follows the same "fox on the run" formula of the first. The flashbacks which serve to remake the first movie tend to bog things down and, in the end, are unnecessary and unfortunate. The fact of the matter is, for this movie to exist, nothing in the first movie needed to be re-written. The flashbacks were unnecessary because not only did they not add to the narrative at hand, but also because anyone watching a TV-movie/sequel should have at least seen the first movie or read the book. Thankfully, though, for a TV-movie, it's actually quite entertaining, despite some cheesy moments and obvious padding. There's a good hour that probably could have been cut from the flick, and it would have been all the better for it. On the upside, Marguerite Moreau is a nice replacement for Barrymore, even if she looks and acts nothing like her. Malcolm McDowell hams it up a bit, but at least gets into his role enough so that you believe he is truly insane. Dennis Hopper shows up, reads his lines and drives off, but his presence is still noteworthy. For a fan of the original "Firestarter" who doesn't mind seeing it violated just a bit, "Firestarter 2: Rekindled" serves as a nice way to kill a rainy afternoon. View it with a grain of salt, and you will find that despite its limitations and short-comings, it's actually not all that bad for a TV-movie. Truth be told, if they had billed the movie simply as "Firestarter: Rekindled," dropping the "2," the results would have been less offensive and it would be suitable as more of a remake than it is a sequel. Think of it as an overblown piece of fan-fiction on the small-screen, and it has its merits.
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