Stephen King’s work has always been a very lucrative library to adapt for the world of T.V., Film, and Radio, and for each adaption, it doesn’t take long for another one to come along not that long afterwards. Blumhouse Productions has had a track record of taking previous properties and capturing the audience’s imagination for a new generation. In 2022, it came to the team at Blumhouse Productions to try their hand at capturing one of King’s most iconic stories into another attempted adaption of Firestarter.
Meet the McGees, a family with extraordinary abilities, as a result of a government trial that Andy and Vicky underwent back in the day. Andy uses his telepathic abilities to make a living as a psychiatrist, and his methods and successes, along with his daughter Charlie’s burgeoning powers, attract the attention of the shadowy group behind the drug trial. Fearing the repercussions if they’re left unchecked, the organisation becomes violent in their intentions to stop Charlie. Andy must take his daughter away from the murderous hands of the government, forcing them on the road, and relying on the kindness of strangers, and the developing powers of his daughter.
While the bulk of the original sees Charlie and her family on the run, 2022’s Firestarter now dedicates some time to offer some breathing room, as the audience gets glances at what Charlie’s life is like with her powers. There is even an allusion to that-special-time-in-a-child’s-life to the emergence of her powers, much akin to Carrie. Demonstrating that the film isn’t going to be a shot-for-shot remake, much like the attempt at remaking Psycho. There are some other slight variations from the 80s film: e.g. the soundtrack isn’t a direct remake of the Tangerine Dream score that was a distinct hallmark of the original film, however, John Carpenter offers another synth-heavy score for your listening pleasure. Outside of that, the broad beats do remain, for fans new and old.
One of the glowing strengths of the original Firestarter film lay in its casting, the 2022 remake does a valiant attempt to follow in the first film’s path with its line-up of stars. Zac Efron is barely recognisable in the role of psychiatrist/father, Andy, on the run. IT Chapter 2 alumni, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, does a good job considering, once again, both the script and the responsibility that comes with being in this leading role at a young age. But also joining the cast is Kurtwood Smith, who like Martin Sheen before him, always offers a treat, and they all help put on yet another fun adaptation of another Stephen King novel.
Firestarter has an intriguing core, that Blumhouse Productions takes into its own, with all the bankable modern trappings to make their readaptation as much of a sure-fire success as possible. The possibility to expand upon the world is still on the table and appears to be an idea that the creatives are certainly considering. Yet as a retelling of an already interesting story, Firestarter doesn’t leave the audience wanting. As there is always an audience, there is always going to be somebody keeping the flame of King’s work alive.
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