HOLLYWOOD—There is a good thing about not seeing the original version of a film remake. Why? You can go into the film with your own expectations and not compare it to the original. That’s the precise feeling I had watching the supernatural thriller “Firestarter.” I had heard about the 80s version starring actress Drew Barrymore, but I never saw it. So this modern take on the film I was completely blind. All I knew was the flick was about a little girl who could manipulate and emit fire with her mind.

So I had an open-mind watching this movie, and I will say the first act is stellar; the second act is solid; the third act was a bit mediocre. This movie did entertain me, but the ending delivered me with a punch that was NOT as satisfying as I expected. The opening sequence captivates you immediately because as a spectator you’re not quite sure what is taking place and you get this spin and the story starts to unfold. We learn a bit about Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) and her parents Andy McGhee and Vicky portrayed by Zac Efron and Sydney Lemon.

The core three characters are developed at a solid pace and we see glimmers of Charlie’s powers that slowly build up which is an excellent storytelling aspect. I was thoroughly impressed to discover that Charlie’s power was no fluke; it was a direct result of her parents being experimented on and them passing their power of telepathy and telekinesis to their daughter. It was a nice twist for anyone who hasn’t seen the original to be taken by surprise with the reveal.

Once we get thru that first act, the second act starts to propel the narrative of science gone wrong, which is common in films of this stature. Sometimes it works, but very rarely does it. The 2022 version of “Firestarter” does not excel in selling the story to the audience. Why? There is no villain that forces the audience to say I’m worried about the fate of our protagonists. If we’re coining Gloria Reuben’s character as the big bad, than she is poorly written and presents limited to any threat level to our heroes and that is a bummer considering everything else clicks for me.

Her lapdog, John (Michael Greyeyes), who is a bounty hunter searching for Charlie, presents a bit of a threat, but after that first encounter with Charlie and her parents it is clear to the audience who has the edge people. Armstrong does solid work in the title role, while Efron teeters between compassionate father, to worried father, to a man who has outbursts of rage. It would have been interesting to see more bursts of rage from the actor in the film that is about anger leading to fire starting. Lemon is the heart of the movie, and her role is vital to setting up the narrative, but beyond our core three, there is not much more character development that intrigues the audience.

“Firestarter” is a solid remake for those who have not seen the original. I would have to see the original to make an official determination on which is better. I mean technology in 2022 is far more advanced than the movie that was made 30 plus years ago America. At the same time, this thriller does not blow the audience out of its seats either. Entertaining, but no slam dunk.