Firestarter 2022 vs. 1984 Movie: Which Is The Better Stephen King Adaptation?

The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s 
Firestarter has hit theaters and Peacock streaming, prompting the question of which one is better, the 2022 remake or the 1984 original adaptation. While they generally hit the same story beats, the two
Firestarter adaptations each execute certain aspects better than their counterpart. But though there are positives to each, only one of the
Firestarter movies comes out on top.,The story of
Firestarter follows Charlie, a young girl with special powers of telekinesis, telepathy, and, most importantly, pyrokinesis. Charlie can simply stare at something and light it on fire. Charlie was born to two parents, Andy and Vicky McGee, who also have powers of their own due to being involved in government experiments when they were in college. The family goes into hiding in order to keep Charlie from The Shop, the government agency that conducted the experiments on the McGees. These are the basic building blocks for both Stephen King movie adaptations.,Related: 1408 Is Stephen King’s Most Underrated Short Story Adaptation,Sadly, both of the 
Firestarter adaptations largely missed the mark of Stephen King’s novel and has failed to truly deliver on what makes King’s stories so timeless, even if each gets various aspects right. Each adaptation offers a somewhat different experience, largely due to the nearly 40-year gap and the improvement in filmmaking technology, which also forces the story to update to the modern-day as well. Even though each film hits similar beats, they do go about certain story beats in a different way, especially when it comes to pacing and plotting. Here’s what each adaptation does better than the other, and which is the better film overall, the 2022 version of
Firestarter or the 1984 version.,While Ryan Kiera Armstrong does her best in the 2022 film, it’s young Drew Barrymore’s Charlie McGee in
Firestarter 1984 that stands out among the two. She encapsulates the innocence of being a child while also balancing it with the fear that comes with not being able to control her powers. When it’s time for her to get serious, though, Barrymore shows an understanding of what this character needs to be fully believable, and even a bit scary in her own right. This is what makes her the better actress to play the role of Charlie, and the more compelling character in many ways.,Both the 1984 and the 2022
Firestarter movies hit largely the same plot beats as the Stephen King novel, but the overlong runtime of the 1984 movie weighs it down and makes the film more of a slog to get through. Meanwhile, the Ryan Kiera Armstrong-led movie, for all of its problems, tightens the runtime to a breezy 94 minutes and streamlines the story in a way that moves it forward in a more efficient manner. Thus, the plot in the 2022 film feels stronger in comparison to the plot of the 1984 version as it zips along more quickly and decisively.,One of the main issues with the 2022 adaptation of 
Firestarter is that it has an identity complex, as it’s unsure whether it wants to be more of a sci-fi horror film or a drama. The 1984 adaptation, on the other hand, has no such issue and digs into King’s horror roots when necessary, making for a scarier journey. The 1984 film is drenched in the classic ’80s horror vibe of the best Stephen King adaptations of the era. Despite John Carpenter’s involvement in the 2022
Firestarter remake, it’s the 1984 version that understands King’s original story more on a tonal level, making it an overall more tense experience.,Related: How Firestarter Can Avoid Pet Sematary’s Stephen King Remake Mistakes,While the 1984 film one-ups the 2022 adaptation in terms of the casting of Charlie, the 2022 film makes up for it with the casting of Zac Efron as Andy McGee. David Keith does a fine enough job in the 1984 film, but his interpretation of the character doesn’t have the same sense of heart and humanity as Efron’s does, and Keith’s Andy isn’t nearly as memorable as a result. Zac Efron makes Andy McGee more of a fully-developed character; behind his eyes lies a tortured soul who wishes for any other life for his daughter than the one she has. It makes the father-daughter dynamic of Charlie and Andy more engaging, especially as Efron’s Andy struggles with confronting the powerful emotions that Charlie feels. The casting of Zac Efron in 2022’s 
Firestarter offers something to the film that it would otherwise lack. He’s a compelling character to follow, as the rest of the characters are more sketches of characters rather than fully-realized people.,For all of its many faults, the 1984 adaptation of 
Firestarter understands the spirit of Stephen King’s novel much better than the 2022 adaptation. King has always been an expert at using supernatural elements to explore deeper themes and stages of life. In the case of 
Firestarter, his novel explores childhood and how a young child copes with being different. While that concept was certainly explored in a more nuanced manner in 2017’s
IT movie adaptation than in either of the
Firestarter movies, the 1984 version still bests the remake.
Firestarter also examines the relationship of a father and daughter, and how love can prevail in even the darkest of times. On a base level, this is explored much more deeply in the 1984 film than in the 2022 adaptation, and the tone of King’s novel is translated more faithfully to the big screen in this version.,While neither adaptation fully understands what made the Stephen King novel as excellent as it was, it’s the 1984 film that gets the closest, as the 2022 film falls short in more fatal ways. Drew Barrymore’s Charlie is overall a much more compelling protagonist and the ’80s horror movie vibe is encapsulated fairly well, making for a nostalgic watch. The original adaptation has more personality than the 2022
Firestarter Stephen King remake; despite it being a bit of a drag in spots, the 1984
Firestarter adaptation is simply a better-crafted film. At the very least, it gets the fundamentals of a Stephen King story down, even if it doesn’t go as far as it could into its characters and deeper themes. The budget is also considerably higher in the 1984 film when taking inflation into account, and it’s very clear on-screen, as the 1984 film looks considerably more theatrical than that of the 2022 version, further solidifying it as the superior film overall.,Next: Stephen King’s Firestarter Remake Is Finally Fixing A Huge Casting Flaw