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Justin Hall at the Movies: ‘Firestarter’ remake crashes and burns
new firestarter movie
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Zac Efron, left, and Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a scene from “Firestarter.” Photo by Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures via AP

“Firestarter” is a remake of the 1984 horror thriller based on the novel by Stephen King. This version would be right at home in fire, because the script should’ve been burnt after the first draft, which is the one it looks like the filmmakers went with. 

This one stars Zac Efron as a father who is also a mentalist, and he has a daughter that possesses the gift of pyrokinesis. She can make fire appear at will and has no control over it. She’s played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and her performance is perhaps the lone bright spot in this uninspired clunker.

Her dad is trying to keep them one step ahead of a government agency that wants to use her powers. They’re also on the run from a bounty hunter (Michael Greyeyes) who wants her abilities. They are not having a good day.

All of these actors seem absolutely lost in this dull and fright-free movie, which doesn’t generate any kind of suspense or even plausible stakes. Nor are these characters memorable or compelling in the slightest, except for the girl. There is one other character that the father- daughter duo run into that does have a likable quality, but his fate is pretty much sealed from the second we meet him.

Plus, don’t even get me started on the climax, which is both frustrating and incomprehensible — and obviously sets itself up for a sequel.

“Burn, baby! Burn!” That was what I thought a couple of times while watching the movie — but I was referring to the film stock.

Grade: D

(Rated R for violent content.).

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