Firestarter Crashes and Burns



Firestarter is not as good as it looks.

Jacob Hallberg, Staff Writer

Combining dry performances, poorly written characters, awful pacing, and an entirely forgettable villain, Blumhouse Productions recent adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter is a total failure. 

Firestarter sees Andy Mcgee (Zac Efron), a man with psychic abilities, and his daughter Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who can start fires with her mind, running from a government agency called “The Shop”, who want to study, and experiment on them. Throughout the story, Charlie has to learn to control her power, which has a tendency to become uncontrollable when she gets upset. Meanwhile Andy is slowly losing his power, and all the while ‘The Shop’ is closing in. 

While there are many problems with Firestarter, the biggest problem is its characters. The focus of any story should always be the characters, because they are how the audience experiences the story, and as such, when the characters fail, the story fails. In Firestarter the characters are, sadly, not the focus, in fact it’s difficult to say exactly what the focus of the film is.

The film, and its characters, meander along pointlessly for the majority of its 90 minute runtime. New concepts and characters, such as the experimental drug which may have given the Mcgees their powers, and the doctor who created it, are introduced in one scene, and are immediately forgotten in the next, making you question why they were introduced in the first place. The characters barely change throughout the movie, and what changes there are, happen so suddenly, and are given so little weight that it’s hard to take them seriously. 

A perfect example of this poor writing is the villain, John Rainbird. Rainbird is a hitman employed by “The Shop”, who is tasked with tracking down the main characters. However, throughout the entire film, Rainbird only ever appears in four scenes, and basically does nothing the whole time. He undergoes a massive transformation towards the end of the film. However, I honestly believe that a fifth crucial scene must have been cut from the final version of the film, because the change comes out of nowhere and has no precedent whatsoever. 

Poor writing always becomes more obvious when paired with poor editing and Firestarter is no exception. Scenes end abruptly, or fade together in a way that feels incredibly unprofessional. 

I wish I could say that Firestarter’s action is it’s saving grace, however, Firestarter has some of the worst I’ve seen in a modern release. The fights involve a lot of standing around, walking very slowly, and surprisingly, not much actual fighting. What little tension the fights have is immediately stripped away by the music, which never seems to fit any scene, whether it be a slow paced dialogue heavy scene, or a slow paced fight scene.

In the end, Firestarter fails on just about every level, I didn’t even mention the stilted dialogue, stale performances, and the utterly ridiculous third act. I struggle to find anything good to say about this film, except perhaps for the fact that it is not two hours.