Charlie McGee -
Vincent Sforza -
John Rainbird -
James Richardson -
OTHER STEPHEN KING SHOWS
Salem's Lot '79
Salem's Lot '04
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
The Golden Years
FIRESTARTER was Stephen King's novel about a young girl with the power to start fires with her mind. Taken to a facility by mysterious government organisation The Shop, a psychotic man by the name of John Rainbird trained her to increase and control her power. In escaping him, she lost her father and burned everyone who knew who she was.
Years later, Charlie is grown up and researching into the drug programme that caused the powers in her parents and thus in her. Her past, however, catches up with her in the shape of the burned, but still alive John Rainbird who has continued his work and developed a new generation of gifted children. He plans to demonstrate their power, but Charlie, as ever, is the child he really wants.
There was something really creepy about the relationship between Charlie and Rainbird in the original film, but then he was played by George C Scott and Malcolm McDowell, though a perfectly serviceable villain, doesn't have the same twisted edge to him somehow. As is the case with sequels, the threat has to be increased and so instead of a whole bunch of human killers, there are a group of superkids with the abilty to control people, scream ultrasonic destruction, move things with their minds and absord all energy, including life. Charlie just wants to run away, but she can somehow never manage to bring herself to do it.
And the real problem with this mini-series is that very little of it actually makes any sense. There are plotlines that rise and disappear (the murdered test subject and the police investigation), there are escapes from the research facility that are always too easy, there is every chance of running away that is never taken and there is every chance to kill Rainbird from episode two onwards, but it is never taken.
As well as McDowell's villainous schtick the cast boasts Dennis Hopper as a restrained and somewhat ineffectual character who is never quite as interesting as he should be and the script muddles his metaphysical conversations to the point of boredom. The lead, Marguerite Moreau, is pretty, but not charismatic to anchor the whole show and Danny Nucci is even less impressive as her love interest and would-be hero. The kids look relatively creepy, but nobody ever thinks to just hit them over the head with something when the powers don't work on them.
In the end, FIRESTARTER REKINDLED has little new to say, goes over too much old ground and doesn't have characters strong enough to make up for the plotting failures.Top
Vincent Sforza works for a research company coming up with people who have been awarded money in big legal battles, but who have dropped off the radar. His latest target is Charlie McGee, a person he already declared dead as a girl twice already. This time, he tries researching her father and discovers a history of experiments on a drug called 'Lot 6', which gave those who took it heightened powers, if it didn't kill them. Charlie McGee could start fires. What he doesn't know is that the girl who is also researching that past is really Charlie McGee.
FIRESTARTER is one of Stephen King's lesser regarded works that was made into a minor film starring Drew Barrymore. In that film, the mysterious government agency tried to harness Charlie McGee's power for their own with fiery consequences. The man behind the search for her now is the same man that she burned back then, only now he is played by Malcolm McDowell for whom a villain like this is child's play.
Marguerite Moreau takes on the role of the adult Charlie, who has learned to carry fire extinguishers with her wherever she goes and who has to call off every sexual encounter before the world around her burns, but there is no depth to the characterisation, partly because of a script that is more about the plot than the characters. Vincent is even less interesting as a character, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the series.Top
Vincent convinces Charlie to go to the doctors that his company has recommended in the hope that they might yet find a cure for her powers. Instead, she is immediately threatened with capture. Vincent, though, has figured out that he is not the side of the angels and tries to help. Rainbird, though, has cultivated new children with new powers and one has the ability to take down the Firestarter.
The set up is over and this gets on with the action as Vincent realises that he's been duped and manages to save his brother, but not himself. Once inside the research facility, he and Charlie are chased by a bunch of men, but it is only when they come up against the sinister children under Rainbird's control that things start to get interesting.Top
Vincent helps Charlie to escape from the research facility, but he himself is caught and tortured by Rainbird and his kids into telling everything he knows about Charlie. She meets Richardson, a man who knew her parents, a man who now knows everything, including the future, but who is unable to change anything. Charlie, though, can change something and decides to go back in to get Vincent.
There are times in this episode when the story makes no sense whatsoever. The kids who were so keen on facing up to Charlie again just stand there and watch her escape. Rainbird's army of men, so prevalent up until now are nowhere to be seen and another survivor of the Lot 6 trials wakes up from being murdered when she has had nothing to do with the main plot up until now.
Enter Dennis Hopper as Richardson in one of his more toned down performances (hell he even wears a suit), but his is a character who doesn't seem to do a lot other than to tell Charlie what she's going to do, making it clear to her what she is going to do whether she agrees with him or not.
There is action at the beginning, but that fizzles away to nothing towards the end and the big finale moment is the death of someone who we don't even care about.Top
Now out of Rainbird's clutches, Charlie plans to go and live in Canada where there is a lot of snow. Vincent decides to go with her, but he has to see his sick father first. Richardson agrees to drop them off at the hospital, but instead drops them off in the town where Rainbird is going to stage the big demonstration of what his kids can do. The test, though, isn't the bank as promised, it's Charlie.
This being Firestarter there has to be a big, explosive, fiery finish and everything in this episode leads up to that one point. Charlie wants to kill Rainbird and Rainbird wants to die at her hands, so why it proves to be such a big problem for her to give him what he wants is hard to understand. There is destruction, however, and action as the kids destroy what is clearly a set and Charlie shows them how it's really done.
This being Firestarter, a happy ending is not on the cards and at least the show lives up to a promise that it made earlier on. Everything else is so unconvincing that it is unlikely that this fire will be rekindled again any time soon.Top