Director: Keith Thomas
Cast: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon
Release Date: June 28, 2022
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 4/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Protected by her parents (Efron and Lemmon), Charlie (Armstrong) has lived her childhood on the run and has kept her extraordinary pyrokinetic powers in check. But now that she’s turning 11, the flames are harder to control, and sinister forces are seeking to capture her. Charlie must learn to embrace the fire from within and fight to control it in order to protect her family and freedom.
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Firestarter’ tells the story of Charlie (Armstrong), a young girl with extraordinary and dangerous pyrokinetic powers who with the help of protective parents (Efron and Lemmon) has managed to keep them at bay for some time now. But when things start to get stressful at school and the deadly company responsible for her parents powers and indirectly her own come hunting for her, things begin to get out of control. After trying to fight off the man sent to kill and/or capture them, Charlie and her father are forced to head out in a desperate attempt to outrun their pursuers before they can make them both their longtime lab rats.
Directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil) from a screenplay written by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills) and based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, Thomas does a decent job at the helm of ‘Firestarter’ guiding along the film ably enough and keeping things looking visually solid throughout. The film’s cast includes Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman), Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Black Widow), Sydney Lemmon (TV’s Fear the Walking Dead), Kurtwood Smith (TV’s That 70’s Show), John Beasley (Spell), Michael Greyeyes (TV’s True Detective) and Gloria Reuben (TV’s City on a Hill) with many offering fairly capable and fitting performances in their respective roles and helping to make this one work better than it might have otherwise.
‘Firestarter’ has its share of rewarding moments and those capably executed sequences and some tense thrills and gore throughout are further benefited by a cast that includes some notable stars. Unfortunately it’s never quite able to use the elements in its favor to overcome some of the troubles that plague it throughout such as an overwhelmingly stuffed and somewhat jumbled storyline that just darts speedily along. It attempts to tackle too much material in a ninety minute runtime without ever allowing any of the heart and more emotional content to take hold or be used to further these characters who have potential for a lot of depth that’s largely wasted. The new film also tries to approach King’s tale in a linear format which would be fine if it was handled with a bit more care, but it only results in even more content and storylines being thrown in and taking away from one another. It’s not an utterly horrid film as a whole and it does look good and deliver some rewarding tidbits that easily stand out, but the negatives nonetheless outweigh the positives and altogether it ends up becoming somewhat of a disappointment that many diehard fans of the source material will probably dislike even more than I did.
Overall, the new ‘Firestarter’ film has a few standout moments and the capable cast helps to propel it along and keep it from ever becoming abysmal, but as a whole it suffers from a jumbled story approach and a lack of emotional depth, largely disregarding character depth and heart in favor of trying to jam-pack as much content as possible into a fairly brief ninety minute runtime. If you’re a fan of the key cast, Blumhouse films in general or are just intrigued to see how they tackle King’s masterpiece then it couldn’t do any harm to give it a chance whenever convenient. Although I would strongly encourage renting a copy or watching it streaming on Peacock prior to purchasing a copy of the Blu-ray if you haven’t yet seen the film. If you’re not overly intrigued or really looking forward to it though, then you’re probably better off just skipping this one.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Firestarter’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and offers a smooth, clean and richly detailed presentation from start to finish. It holds up nicely even during the various darkly lit and fast moving sequences throughout and never allows anything that’s occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered problematic; always maintaining a sharp and colorful presentation. Overall, this is a pretty fantastic high definition video presentation that never loses its way and it should more than satisfy fans and first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack is a great complement that delivers a crisp, hard hitting and problem free audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send fire roaring throughout the various speakers, along with nature content, bits of dialogue and more whenever appropriate, while never resulting in any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously becoming distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a wonderful 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes some extra fun to the viewing experience.
The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of ‘Firestarter’ includes a decent helping of bonus content that fans of the film should enjoy. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Keith Thomas’, in addition to an ‘Alternate Ending’ (running approximately 3 minutes in length) and a handful of ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 20 minutes in length altogether), as well as a brief ‘Gag Reel’ (approximately 1 minute). We are also treated to a few Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore different aspects of bringing the new film to life, featuring interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are ‘A Kinetic Energy’ (running approximately 6 minutes), ‘Spark A Fire’ (approximately 4 minutes), ‘Igniting Firestarter’ (3 minutes) and ‘Power Struggle’ (3 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 4/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘Firestarter’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Blumhouse & Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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