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Peacock 'Firestarter' Review: Reboot of the 1984 flick starring Zac Efron is all smoke and no fire

The movie works for the section of the audience who haven't watched the original 1984 movie or read the novel
UPDATED MAY 13, 2022
Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a still from 'Firestarter' (Peacock)
Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a still from 'Firestarter' (Peacock)

Not much is novel in 'Firestarter' as it pretty much lives up to what could be called a decent reboot. The 1984 flick is different from Peacock's version in that it toggles between the present events and flashbacks, while the OG is pretty much a straightforward narrative. Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) can start a fire if she sets her mind to it — a result of her parents who were test subjects for an experiment they signed up for in college. They have powers too, both psychokinetic. While the wife Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) doesn't show her abilities much, Andy (Zac Efron) uses them to make a living.

It doesn't always end well for him as the powers take a toll on his body. His eyes bleed when he uses them and the couple remains divided on whether to teach their daughter to control her powers, or just let them lay dormant. Playing a key role is Gloria Reuben as Captain Hollister, the new head honcho at The Shop, the clandestine secret government lab that is responsible for giving the couple their powers. She enlists Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), a former experiment subject, to track Charlie to turn her into a weapon.


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Andy gets caught in his attempt to save Charlie, and the focus is now on the young tyke to save her father. There are pretty much the standard issue elements of chase and fight, some bunch of lines thrown here and there, but 'Firestarter' is downright predictable. What makes the movie dull is the lack of detailing as far as the characters are concerned. Stephen King's novel had that element of surprise and suspense, while also shedding light on the journey of these characters. If anything, the reboot slays it in the gore and action department. John and Cody Carpenter's score adds to intensity but is somewhat let down by the lack of effort in adding more depth to the movie.

Efron, Lemmon, and Ryan hold their own. However, there is no contest when it comes to debating between her and Drew Barrymore who played Charlie in the previous installment. Those who felt the movie was absolutely a letdown aren't completely right. There's enough that makes for a one-time watch, but the absence of substance makes it all smoke and no fire. This one works for the section of the audience who haven't watched the original movie or read the novel.

'Firestarter' is available for streaming on Peacock.