Plot: What’s it about?
In a seemingly never-ending quest to remake or reboot every single television show and movie ever made, we now find ourselves looking at Firestarter. If the name sounds familiar, and the folks who made this movie sure hope it does, that’s because it was a Stephen King movie that found its way to the big screen back in…1984. It starred a post E.T. Drew Barrymore, George C. Scott and David Keith. It was a relatively decent film and I have to admit that I had a thing for Drew Barrymore back in the 80’s (relax, I was 12 at the time, so it’s nothing creepy). Flash forward nearly four decades and…here we are again.
Andy McGee (Zac Efron) and his wife, Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) are the recipients of a government experiment that left them with special powers. Andy can “push” people to make them do what he wants. Their daughter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) was born with the ability to set things on fire using her mind. She has no control over this and when her emotions get the best of her, things burn. Because of this, the family has been in hiding for years. The government agency, led by Hollister (Gloria Reuben) gets wind of where they’re hiding and sends an assassin, Rainbird (Michael Greveves) to hunt them down. Andy and Charlie are now on the run where we know what will culminate when the two opposing forces meet.
I haven’t seen the original version of this film in quite some time, but after watching this it was clear that several key points had been left out. We get a “look back” that takes about one-third of the film and, ultimately, we don’t really care about the characters or their situation. The original plunged us right into the action, thus creating a sense of urgency. It immediately hooked the viewer in. This one doesn’t do that. We’re rooting for the father/daughter team that’s on the run from the government. Reportedly Stephen King wasn’t very happy about this adaptation of one of his better novels. The film isn’t totally devoid of entertainment value, but it’s few and far between. I’d say if you’re looking to watch the film, stick with the original.
Video: How’s it look?
Being a new film we know what to expect. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think we’re at the point where every new-to-the-format film will look pretty amazing. And that’s the case here. The 2.39:1 AVC HD image is crystal clear, razor sharp, has bold, bright colors and leaves very little to the imagination. The individual hairs in Zac Efron’s beard are even visible in some scenes. How’s that for clarity? Clear, blue skies dominate some scenes and, of course, we get the more “baked” sequences with fire. It’s a good-looking picture.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There’s something about fire that has always grabbed my attention when watching a movie. It activates the LFE and, for some reason, I’ve always found it somewhat fascinating. Maybe at heart I’m just a pyromaniac? Nevertheless, we know what the expect with the included DTS HD Master Audio mix. Vocals are clear and crisp, surrounds are used sparingly, except in the third act. I found this a nice, well-balanced mix that’s sure to please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Andy Reflects in Mirror
- Andy’s Lot Six Nightmare – Extended
- Wanless Gets a Visitor – Extended
- Rainbird Scare/Wildlife Hunt
- Charlie Treks to Find Andy
- Charlie Counts Down “Five, Four, Three, Lies”
- Andy’s Visionary Escape From the Cell
- Gag Reel
- A Kinetic Energy – Filmmakers and cast discuss how stars Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong worked closely with director Keith Thomas to bring this new film to life.
- Spark a Fire – A look at how the story and themes were adapted from the famous novel.
- Igniting Firestarter – A behind-the-scenes look at how the most extreme fire effects and stunts were accomplished.
- Power Struggle – A breakdown of the physical stunts and practical effects that came together to craft the fight scene between Rainbird and Vicky.
- Audio Commentary – Director Keith Thomas does his best to talk about the film and how “important” it is. Admittedly, I didn’t finish this one but the track is there if anyone wants to listen to it.
The Bottom Line
You know what’d be great? If they could make original films instead of regurgitating to us what we’ve already seen. Granted, adapting a Stephen King novel for the screen is nothing new, but they did this already. It’s a remake of a film that, honestly, wasn’t even that great the first time. Universal’s disc, as per usual, looks and sounds good, but it’s not enough to save this trainwreck.