tek's rating: meh and three quarters

Firestarter (R)
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This is based on a book by Stephen King, which I haven't read. It came out in 1984 (when I was eight years old), but I didn't see it until 2022, on the night that a remake opened. It's technically a horror movie, but I'm not listing it under "scary movies", because I didn't find anything about it particularly scary, just paranormal. In fact if anything about it was scary it wasn't the paranormal parts, it was the government agency that killed one person and hunted down two others (and was responsible for the deaths of a bunch of other people who are of no importance to the movie). Sure, a lot of members of that agency were killed by one of the people they were hunting, but they kind of had it coming.

Anyway, this agency that's nicknamed "the Shop" did an experiment on some people, injecting them with something called "Lot-6". Two of those people were Andy McGee and the woman he later married, Vicky (Heather Locklear). Years later, agents of the Shop killed Vicky and tried to kidnap her and Andy's young daughter, Charlie (Drew Barrymore). See, Vicky and Andy had developed telepathy because of the experiment, and Andy could control minds (and apparently to some extent machines). Charlie was born with pyrokinesis, as well as limited precognition. For the first half of the movie, Andy and Charlie are on the run from the Shop, and briefly take refuge with an older couple named Irv and Norma Manders (Art Carney and Louise Fletcher, neither of whom I recognized). Later they move into a house in a remote location, which was owned by Andy's late father. It's there that they're captured by an agent named Rainbird (George C. Scott), though they're not aware of his involvement at the time (he tranqs them from a distance).

Back at the Shop, the agency, led by Captain James Hollister (Martin Sheen), do experiments on Andy. They give him medication which seems to relieve him of his powers, though he secretly eventually stops taking it. Meanwhile, Rainbird pretends to be an orderly (as they say in the film, though I thought of him more as a janitor) named John. He befriends Charlie to trick her into going along with the Shop's experiments with her own power, with the false promise that she'll be able to see her father. And I don't want to say any more about the plot, except that Charlie causes a lot of fires and stuff. I could see how that would be scary for kids who might be watching the movie, but mostly I just found the whole movie kind of boring. I just couldn't manage to care all that much about any of it, and aside from some reasonably good special effects, I didn't think the movie was very well made.

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