Blu Ray Collectors : 1, Collector's Edition
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She has the power to set objects afire with just one glance!
Firestarter, based on the unforgettable best-seller by esteemed horror author Stephen King, chronicles the extraordinary life of Charlene "Charlie", McGee. Eight-year-old Drew Barrymore stars as the child who has the amazing ability to start fires with just a glance. Can her psychic power and the love of her father save her from the threatening government agency, "The Shop, ", which wants to control her… or destroy her? Filled with blazing special effects and featuring an all-star cast including Martin Sheen, Heather Locklear, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher and George C. Scott, Firestarter is directed by Mark L. Lester (Class of 1999, Commando) and driven by a pulsating, thrilling score from Tangerine Dream (Legend, Sorcerer, Risky Business).
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The movie apparently stays pretty faithful to the novel (I have not read it, but in the making of commentary it was stated that the screenplay was basically just a pared down version of the novel, without major changes). The most notable actor in the movie at the time was George C Scott, but it also boasted a still fairly young Martin Sheen, Heather Locklear and some other recognizable character actors. The writing and acting was very good, and the story hold up well even after all these years. Barrymore did a good job having to carry a lot of the movie despite being so young. While a lot of what she had to do was look angry a lot and cry, she did remarkably well with the dramatic material for being so young. The only thing that does not hold up well, and is probably amplified in hi-definition are the special effects. Given the time even the best CGI was limited (especially for a movie that did not have an enormous budget) so the fireballs and ricocheting bullets at the end looked very cheesy.
For those who get the disc, the blu-ray transfer is about as good as you can expect for a movie this old. The extras include an audio commentary track with the director, an almost hour long making of feature with interviews with some of the actors and filmmakers. Unfortunately neither Barrymore or Martin Sheen or any of the other main actors in the film were interviewed for it which would have been nice to see (obviously George C. Scott passed away many years ago and could not be). There is also a feature on the music, trailers and promotional spots and a stills gallery. Very good for what is included.
As I said the movie holds up fairly well over the years. Unlike some of the other movies adapted from King's novels, it is not overtly scary (like IT for example). It is more of a psychological thriller than it is a horror movie. I remember seeing it when I was very young (around the time it came out). I am a year younger than Barrymore, and I was not freaked out by it even back then. It is definitely worth checking out and the extras on the blu-ray (for those who like going through the bonus materials) make it worth the pickup.
I did not read the original book by Stephen King. That said, I could not obviously draw comparisons. So, I enjoyed the movie for what it was: a good thriller, with enough suspense and a good screenplay.
The restauration for blu-ray is amazing, the image is top quality.
As for the film itself, I actually think it holds up better than I remembered it. I had seen it many years ago on VHS tape and I remembered liking the movie. I have recently started to build Stephen King movies collection so I picked this up to add to my collection. I think this is one of the best Stephen King movies out there. I don't expect movies to be hundred percent faithful to the source material so in my opinion, being a good adaptation and being a good movie are mutually exclusive things.
I think the movie was very well-directed, flashback scenes were edited appropriately, acting was quite good (George C Scott steals the movie with a great performance; his Rainbird character is one duplicitous villain played with perfection) although I think Drew Barrymore did also a great job portraying Charlie, the little girl with a terrifying supernatural gift and affection for her father. Special effects were awesome. I've read some criticisms about the special effects in this movie; quite frankly I have no idea why anyone would complain about the special effects in this movie unless they are expecting CGI effects. Personally, I prefer old-fashioned special effects. I am happy this movie was made with the special effects that were used back in the day.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes Stephen King movies, or enjoys fantasy/sci-fi genre. If you are fan of X-Men, you should definitely give this movie a chance (I could clearly imagine Charlie joining the X-Men). Other Stephen King movies that I like and recommend: Christine, Cujo, Carrie, The Dead Zone, Salem's Lot (1974), The Shining (1980), Silver Bullet and Misery.