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Firestarter

Year: 1984
Director: Mark L Lester
Writer: Stephen King
Cast: Drew Barrymore, George C Scott, Martin Sheen, David Keith
From the time before most people realised how crap most Stephen King adaptations were (and before Drew Barrymore plunged dangerously hard off various wagons - come to think of it, this film must have been made right before she spent most of her time in a coke or drink-addled daze; she was nine at the time).

Like usual though, the finer points of King's novel have been missed completely. He's a master at using subtext to comment on something else, but it passes straight by B grade filmmakers over the last 25 years who've got the rights to his material.

In the book, Charley and her fathers' powers were almost incidental. King was talking more about the abuse of power by the government (epitomised by the shadowy agency The Shop and the reach of their influence), and about the nature of friendship between adults and children (which is why he concentrated so much on the character of John Rainbird).

But the movie is just about a little girl who can start fires and the various dramas she can cause by doing so. Charley (Barrymore) is the offspring of parents who took part in psychotropic drug trials, so has been born with the incredible power of pyrokinesis (the ability to light fires with her mind).

A deeply entrenched and secret government agency led by Martin Sheen takes them both prisoner, and the creepy assassin Rainbird (Scott) for some reason wants to become friends with Charley and have her trust him before he kills her with his signature karate chop to the nose.

The performances by Keith, Sheen and Scott are all good - and Barrymore, considering she was still a little kid, but nothing else particularly stands out.

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