Before the boisterous, coarse spectacle of fire, explosions and stunts which makes up Firestarter's finale, this Dino De Laurentiis adaptation of Stephen King's novel stays fairly interesting thanks to director Mark L. Lester's economical, meandering style, George C. Scott's amusingly over-the-top character Rainbird, and a sweet but overmilked relation between David Keith and Drew Barrymore. They play a father and daughter whose involvement in scientific experiments has given them supernatural powers: Dad can control other people's actions, and 8-year-old Charlie has pyrokinetic abilities. Of course, the two are now hunted by big, bad government reps, and maybe they need to use their powers once in a while – if they're pushed to the proverbial edge.
Although marketed as a horror movie, Firestarter largely lacks chills and scares, and therefore bears little semblance to the more archetypical King adaptations. This is more of a cross between The Dead Zone and D.A.R.Y.L. Seen in retrospect, the special effects arguably hold up better than the drama, which turns tacky after a while. Kudos to little Barrymore, though, who carries much of the film on her shoulders and does it well. To the extent that you're able to become engrossed in the story, it's largely thanks to her impassioned performance. Art Carney and Louise Fletcher are delightful as an older couple who come to Keith and Barrymore's aid.