A new Stephen King book adaptation has now been released in both theaters and on Peacock, this time in the form of a remake of the 1984 film Firestarter. This then leads to the question, how does this movie hold up when looking at both the original film and other King adaptations?
It’s sad to say but the 2022 version of Firestarter falls on the side of bad Stephen King adaptations. This new Firestarter isn’t only a bad adaptation but is just an all-around bad movie. When I was watching Firestarter (2022) I couldn’t believe this was a movie that was being put in theaters. The decision to put the movie on Peacock simultaneously was absolutely the right move as this movie does not give the feeling that it is necessary to see on the big screen at all. From mediocre writing and acting to bad and awkward editing choices to even having special effects that somehow look worse than the original movie, Firestarter (2022) is unfortunate from so many different angles.
It is also important to note that not only is the film not a frame-by-frame remake, but a lot of the story beats are also different than the original film and not for the better. The 2022 remake is around twenty minutes shorter than the original and the first half of the remake happens in the first twenty minutes of the 1984 film. While this isn’t always a problem, Firestarter (2022) never makes a good enough case for this as it results in rushed and sloppy moments that completely disorientate the viewer.
Though Firestarter (2022) has similar beats to a movie like Carrie, unfortunately, the remake stands more with the Pet Sematary remake and The Dark Tower in being some of the worst Stephen King adaptations. With Carrie, the climax of the movie feels like it has been properly and eloquently built up to, but sadly when it comes to Firestarter (2022) the climax feels more as if it was a bullet point on a checklist. Even in the original Firestarter, the climax was much more epic and made much more sense with the story, something that the 2022 film is severely lacking.
It’s important to note that when you have the number of writings someone like Stephen King does, it is completely understandable that not all of your writings will be able to translate into something special. This is something that has been long talked about when it comes to Stephen King adaptations, basically from the beginning. However, whereas the 1984 film is a close adaptation of the Stephen King story, Firestarter (2022) is not, so it doesn’t even have this argument to fall back on.
There is a whole portion of both the original film and the book that is missing from Firestarter (2022) which should’ve never been cut. It seems that Firestarter (2022) viewed these scenes as not exciting enough for a modern audience, but in doing so they cut out scenes that were necessary for the development of the characters. This is perhaps the remake’s biggest sin, resulting in the mess that is Firestarter (2022).
If all this wasn’t bad enough, the movie itself also leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to horror. While the original film was also not a particularly scary film, it never really tried to be; however, the 2022 remake very much tries to have scary moments. These moments end up falling incredibly flat and are not frightening in the slightest.
This is not to say that King adaptations always need to be scary or even have horror, just take a look at movies like The Shawshank Redemption or Stand by Me for example. However, these movies also aren’t attempting to be classified as horror unlike Firestarter (2022).
If you want to see a better Stephen King adaptation, there are dozens to choose from and if you want to see a better adaptation of Firestarter the novel, then the 1984 version will still have to do.
What are your feelings on Firestarter (2022)? What are some of your favorite and least favorite Stephen King adaptations?