Film: Firestarter
Plot: A young girl tries to understand how she mysteriously gained the power to set things on fire with her mind.
Cast: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, and Michael Greyeyes
Director: Keith Thomas
Release Date: May 13, 2022
Studio: Universal Pictures
HCA Overall Grade: C-

Staci Wilson says, “Firestarter is a decent timewaster but it could have been so much more. It is rated R, so at least gorehounds will appreciate the gooey, graphic special effects—some of these burn victims make Freddy Kruger look like an Estée Lauder face cream model.”

Grade: ​​C

Scott Menzel says, “Firestarter is a misfire but one that brings so many unintentional laughs along the way. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in a very long time. There is so much that happens in Firestarter that makes little to no sense like the scene where Andy (Efron) begins to pray for a dead cat that Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) accidentally lights on fire because it scratches her. The scene will probably be one of the most memorable scenes of the year because it is so damn ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. There are also plenty of other weird and random moments throughout, including one where John Beasley’s character picks up Charlie and Andy and takes them back to his house, and talks about a random documentary he watched on Netflix. I know that this movie isn’t good but I found a lot of it to be enjoyable in a Mystery Science Theater sort of way. I can’t honestly recommend spending any money on it but if you want to get a bunch of friends together and watch it on Peacock, I think it will be a fun 90 minutes especially if some drinks are involved.”

Grade: ​​C

Aaron Neuwirth says, “Despite the efforts of John Carpenter and co. to deliver a solid new score, much like the old Firestarter, the new Firestarter isn’t good. In fact, it’s much worse. Dull, cheap-looking, and lacking in anything to say (especially given the nature of what’s going on, and in 2022 no less), there’s no spark to this latest Stephen King adaptation.”

Grade: ​​C-

Anthony Digioia says, “Firestarter was sadly another bland remake that feels completely unnecessary as it goes through the motions and ticks off the boxes on its assembly line list of to-dos. The origin-story approach was a miss. It fails to build a sinister atmosphere and lacks any real tension. The vibe of the scoring is a bright spot, but not enough to make this remake drenched in studio polish a good time.”

Grade: ​​D+

Shannon McGrew says, “Firestarter is an amalgamation of all that could wrong with a movie. There are no stakes in the game, no scares, and nothing that’ll make the audience connect with the characters. The only positive I can give it is it features a banger of a soundtrack from John Carpenter.”

Grade: ​​D

Ema Sasic says, “Firestarter doesn’t try to improve from the original 1984 film whatsoever. It feels very lifeless and uninspired and ultimately doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be. The script glosses over the most interesting parts of these characters, and while the cast does the best it can with the material, not even they can save this.”

Grade: ​​F

Jeff Ewing says, “Despite a committed performance from Zac Efron and the always excellent Michael Greyeyes, Firestarter is full of missed potential–it’s poorly scripted, cheaply executed, and continuously underuses its best elements.”

Grade: ​​D

Patrick Beatty says, “Stephen King adaptations can be hit or miss, and Firestarter failed to generate a spark for me. Sure, this isn’t the worst of the Stephen King film adaptations we’ve seen, but the best thing you could say about Firestarter is that it’s just ‘fine’. Zac Efron limits his charisma for a more toned-down character that ends up being blander because of it. Supporting characters are about the same energy. There are some decent moments of suspense and you can’t discredit the amazing score from legendary director/composer John Carpenter. But overall this is a quick and painless watch that you may forget about the next day.”

Grade: ​​C-

Mara Knopic says, “Firestarter is a disappointment, simply put. There are numerous problems including an underdeveloped screenplay that doesn’t engage the viewer, a third act climax that smothers any momentum the film did possess, and a complete lack of investment in the future(s) of any of the characters moving forward. The film is not without redeeming qualities; Zac Efron makes the most of the material he is given and the musical contributions by John Carpenter are excellent, though neither is sufficient to save Firestarter from extinguishing its ability to succeed. I would be remiss if I failed to note that there is also a particularly offensive example of cruelty to animals that were used as a gratuitous and lazy way to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. If the injury/death of an animal has a purpose to further the development of a character/plot, it need not be of extended length or with the visual and audible triggers that Firestarter possesses. Furthermore, there is a later example of a similar injury to a human being and the scene is both shorter and less aggressive in its depiction. Despite my love of the horror genre, and particularly the written/adapted works of Stephen King, I will not be revisiting this film in the future.”

Grade: ​​D

Dan Murrell says, “Firestarter is a mostly lifeless, droll remake of a Stephen King film adaptation that wasn’t that much of a classic to begin with. Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong do their best to add some kind of emotion to a flat retelling of King’s story about a telekinetic girl named Charlie and her father who are on the run from a government lab. While it’s not Firestarter’s fault that countless TV and film adaptations have used the building blocks Stephen King provided in his original book, this remake also doesn’t do much to reinvent the wheel and seems content to become just another in a long line of cliche-filled horror stories about young girls with special powers. There are obvious budgetary limitations as well, confining Charlie’s power to brief bursts of contained flame that don’t seem worthy of the response they’re given. The movie ends with an anticlimactic showdown and a completely unintelligible character turn that makes no sense in the context of the story. Firestarter would have been better served had it stayed on the page and in the warm memories of ’80s horror fans. The score, however, by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies is fantastic.”

Grade: ​​C-

Firestarter is now playing in theaters and available to stream on Peacock