New Firestarter limited editon blu-ray from Plan B

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Gerald

Well-Known Member
Sep 8, 2011
1,320
3,861
The Netherlands
#1
Plan B Entertainment Brings 2K Transfer of Stephen King's 'Firestarter' to (UK) Blu-Ray - Dark Universe: Horror Database

Looks like a good package. It's not one of my true favourites but I have a soft spot for it as it's the first King adaptation I saw at the cinema.

These were my thoughts when I recently rewatched it, when there was talk of a re-make:

I rewatched Firestarter which I hadn't seen for probably twenty years or so. This was the first Stephen King adaptation I ever saw.

What strikes me mostly about it is the poor acting by Barrymore. I suppose nowadays child actors in Hollywood get better training/coaching as you seldom see this kind of bad acting anymore. It wouldn't be a problem if she wasn't so central to the film and story. It isn't so much the physical side - her facial expressions and body language are quite good - but the way she delivers her lines is really, really bad.
Essentially it's not a bad film, but a very mediocre one, so there's certainly a claim to remaking it. On the whole the De Laurentiis adaptations of King (even if I have a soft spot for them) - Firestarter, Cat's Eye, Silver Bullet, Maximum Overdrive - are all quite average, but they're entertaining nonetheless. The only good one is The Dead Zone, but this has more to do with Cronenberg and Christopher Walken of course.

The main reason to see it, is George C. Scott who is terrific in it. He plays a Native American although that's not made all that clear in the film apart from his name (a more logical choice for the role would have been Will Sampson, whose co-star from One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Louise Fletcher is in it, but in a minor role).
His role is quite tricky too, as with his interest in Charlie, saying she's beautiful, wanting to be her friend and loving her, he could easily come off as a peadophile, but it never feels that way.
So in terms of actors the film is very uneven.

There are some things that date the film, like a sound effect that's used when Andy (David Keith) imposes his will on other people. Also the ambient score by Tangerine Dream, although not bad, makes it feel dated and you wonder how it would fare with a more traditional symphonic score.
Actually John Carpenter was gonna direct it first, but he got fired after The Thing flopped. In his case we would most likely have gotten an electronic score too.

What doesn't feel dated is the fire-effects though. Fire in films is one of those things when done badly can look very fake, but that is not the case at all here.
I don't think there's a special edition of the film, so I don't know for sure, but it looks like they set a lot of stuntmen on fire and it looks really good. Also other things burning and exploding all look very good and real.
The finale though when Charlie sets loose her powers completely feels kind of short, making the ending of the film feel rather abrupt (I didn't notice this so much at the time). Basically it's just a couple of minutes where she walks from a burning barn to a bridge halfway the main building of The Shop (which kind of looks like The White House), setting people shooting at her on fire, some vehicles and a helicopter, and finally making the building explode. There's certainly room for improvement here, making it a bit longer.
By comparison the carnage at the prom in Carrie feels kind of short too (and all three films skip the scene where Carrie goes into a church before going home) - a lot of the prom scene is building up to the dropping of the bucket, which De Palma's film does brilliantly, making the actual carnage feel a bit short in comparison. But what punctuates that film is the scene with her mother when she gets home and the final dream sequence (which got imitated a lot after that in films like Friday the 13th).

I liked the book a lot. The word 'solid' gets thrown a lot nowadays as a recommendation, but this was a very solid book - even though it was a reworking of the Carrie theme it had enough a voice of its own. And with the way it was adapted as a film there's enough room for improvement for a remake. But I feel it should do something new with the material, reinvent it in some way.
What disappointed it me about Kimberly Peirce's remake of Carrie is that it was just that, a remake, not a reimagination. She even went to talk beforehand to Brian de Palma for advice. So what you get is a complete repetition of the original film, save for new visual techniques and different actors, of which fortunately the central two played by Moretz and Moore were again very good (although the other roles not so much unfortunately). Basically there's not a real point to a remake like that. Unless you can improve or add something valuable to the material a remake feels a bit 'empty' and its main purpose seems to be able to make money off an established property.
 

Gerald

Well-Known Member
Sep 8, 2011
1,320
3,861
The Netherlands
#3
I just cannot handle seeing Barrymore and David Keith telling each other for the umpteenth time that they love each other.
Compared to the other De Laurentiis King-adaptations it is kind of sappy at times. Not sure why they took that approach, but that may be explained in the extras. It could be because of the flavour at the time, because of E.T.
 
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