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Movie reviews: Stephen King classic gets a new treatment in the remake of 'Firestarter'

Drew Barrymore played young "Charlie" in the original 1984 movie. Now it's Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who's a Stephen King veteran, appearing in "It: Chapter Two."

Firestarter

Well, she'd be great to take on a camping trip ... bonfires on demand!

A Stephen King classic gets a new treatment in the remake of "Firestarter." I did not see the original, so I cannot offer comparisons. Here, in what I believe is a first, Zac Efron plays a dad, a hot one at that, (excuse the pun). He and his wife (Sydney Lemmon) were subjects of a government experiment back in their college days. They came away with telekinetic powers which both have suppressed. But their genetics are strong. A bouncing baby girl comes along, and all hell breaks loose in the household. Her powers are even greater.  

Drew Barrymore played young "Charlie" in the original 1984 movie. Now it's Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who's a Stephen King veteran, appearing in "It: Chapter Two." 

Could she equal that Barrymore scream? Yes, she could. 

Her dad explains she really has superpowers, but they must be used wisely and not when you're bullied at school (It's a tough one to explain to the principal). An out-of-control pyro incident draws attention to the family, and that pesky government agency goes on the hunt. Enter the character "Rainbird," who I can never really figure out, given how the movie ends.

I won't give that or anything else away, but dad and Charlie end up on the run together, briefly accepting a kind farmer's hospitality. Then it's every man or child for himself, in an effort to keep Charlie safe. Director Keith Thomas says almost all the fire effects are real, done in-camera. That meant using flame-throwers, even lighting up actors. Look, this is not nearly as good as other King adaptations (I'm thinking of "It," offhand). It deserves its "R" rating, as lifeforms are burned to a crisp. 

But as horror goes, it flames out. 

(Universal Pictures. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 34 mins. In Theaters and Streaming on Peacock.)

Senior Year

Rebel Wilson stars in her first film since her dramatic weight loss. 

A high school cheerleader, "Stephanie," takes a nasty fall and wakes up in the hospital 20 years later as Wilson. She goes back to high school trying to resume her life and earn that elusive prom queen crown. "This Is Us" star Justin Hartley co-stars as her former high school crush. 

Wilson says the character was originally written as an athlete, but she wanted to fulfill her cheerleading fantasy and made the tweak. I haven't seen this, (Mavericks Game 6 beckoned) but it tops my list this weekend. Give me an "R." Rebel

(Netflix. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 51 mins. Streaming on Netflix.)