Critics Consensus

Firestarter's concept hews too closely to other known Stephen King adaptations, though it's got nice special effects (including scenery-chewing George C. Scott).



Reviews Counted: 24

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Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

Firestarter is based on a bone-chilling novel by Steven King. Drew Barrymore plays Charlie McGee the young daughter of Andrew (David Keith) and Vicky (Heather Locklear) McGee, who years earlier had been guinea pigs for a top secret experiment. As a result, Charlie has acquired the unenviable ability to start fires simply by thinking about fires. Charlie is pursued over hill and dale by The Shop, a secret government organization bent upon using her skills for nefarious purposes. The special effects are undeniably startling, even when the script and dialogue are straight out of the funny papers (it's hard to keep a straight face during the New York Times final shot!) The high-priced cast--including George C. Scott, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher--seems to be having a grand ole time. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Drew Barrymore
as Charlene 'Charlie' McGee
George C. Scott
as John Rainbird
David Keith
as Andrew 'Andy' McGee
Heather Locklear
as Victoria 'Vicky' Tomlinson McGee
Freddie Jones
as Doctor Joseph Wanless
Martin Sheen
as Captain Hollister
Art Carney
as Irv Manders
Louise Fletcher
as Norma Manders
Moses Gunn
as Doctor Pynchot
Antonio Fargas
as Taxi Driver
Drew Snyder
as Orville Jamieson
Jeff Ramsey
as Steinowitz
Jack Magner
as Young Serviceman
Lisa Anne Barnes
as Serviceman's Girlfriend
Larry Sprinkle
as Security Guard
Cassandra Ward-Freeman
as Woman in Stall
Scott R. Davis
as Bearded Student
Nina Jones
as Grad Assistant
William Alspaugh
as Proprietor
Steve Boles
as Mailman
Stanley Mann
as Motel Owner
Robert Miano
as Blinded Agent
Leon Rippy
as Blinded Agent
Carole Francisco
as Joan Dugan
Etan Boritzer
as DSI Technician
Joan Foley
as DSI Technician
Orwin Harvey
as DSI Orderly
George P. Wilbur
as DSI Orderly
Carey Fox
as Agent Hunt
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Critic Reviews for Firestarter

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (2)

Audience Reviews for Firestarter

Stephen King's story gets a once over but very little more as this adaptation is all about the fireworks. But once it's time for that ... hooboy, do things heat up plenty fast. George C. Scott is a smoothly contemptible villain as well.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Despite the nice special effects and musical score, this is more a mere excuse for pyrotechnics instead of a story made to offer us anything close to real drama or character development, and it doesn't even understand the character's power enough to make it consistent.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


The problem with Firestarter is that it is a horror film that relies way too much on elaborate special effects. The book written by Stephen King was good, entertaining, scary and effective at delivering thrills. This is a film that cheaply relies on the effects to try and create the same atmosphere that the book had, but the payoff is horrible. This is one of the worst Stephen King adaptations that I have seen. King himself, voted this film as one of the worst of his book to screen adaptations. This film was bad, and considering the cast, you'd expect something good, right? However this is a poorly constructed film that relies little on story and more on effects. I think the film would have been much better if the filmmakers would have developed the story a bit more and focused less on visuals. This is a sloppy attempt at bringing Stephen King's book to the screen. Firestarter could have been a good film, unfortunately the film fails and instead of elaborating on the story; it just becomes a visual feast for the eyes with no substance. If you're looking for a good adaptation of a Stephen King novel, you won't find it here. If you're a fan of the book, you'll be disappointed in this film. This is a film that only visually looks good, but doesn't offer anything else. If you're looking for good horror elements, look elsewhere. You won't find it here. The script and directing are horrible, and it's a shame that they couldn't bring a great book to the screen in a more memorable manner. This film is bad, and is quite forgettable.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


Another haphazard adaptation of a Stephen King novel, this quintessential eighties horror movie includes the cute factor of a young and drug free Drew Barrymore, still rising high off her role in E.T. and Hollywood acting dynasty status. The story has a simplistic premise, but the backstory and subsequent plot usually keep it interesting, including the cast of characters, each of which bring their own brand of lukewarm acting to the table. Keith is only present to give a Southern accented performance, grasping his temples and letting two trails of blood come out of his nose. Barrymore is still young, inexperienced in the craft that is acting, if we're being blunt. Sure, she's cute and can call upon her own baseless emotions to culp a performance, but she's years away from a decent portrayal of an actual human. Scott is supposed to be Native American but besides a ponytail and the name Rainbird is white as, well, George C. Scott. His, though, is the only performance truly worth watching, as he is diabolical, inserting himself into Barrymore's life with ease, eye patch and craggy voice narrating the entire tawdry deal. The effects were pretty lackluster, even for the eighties, even for the content they were dealing with. It's understandable why this wasn't given the proper attention, as it was the fifth Stephen King adaptation of that particular year. (Others included The Dead Zone and Children of the Corn). Still, it's an interesting if not obnoxious film, and it's always good to see Barrymore in the early years, before she became a decent actress and erased her childhood.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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