Firestarter 2 Rekindled (2002)

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Released 5-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 161:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (81:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Iscove
Studio
Distributor
USA Films
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Marguerite Moreau
Malcolm McDowell
Dennis Hopper
Danny Nucci
Skye McCole Bartusiak
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Randy Miller


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Turkish
Romanian
Czech Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    By all accounts, Firestarter was a common example of the sort of film that gets made out of a Stephen King story, being basically a load of crap that missed all of the detail from the source material. It is notoriously hard to translate a King story of any kind to the big screen, with The Dead Zone and Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption being the only two to have film adaptations which can be considered good. For those who haven't read the novel or seen the film Firestarter, the latter basically revolved around a couple who participate in an experiment to gain psychic powers, and wind up having a daughter who can set things ablaze with the sheer force of her mind, played with aplomb by a young Drew Barrymore.

    Firestarter Rekindled picks up a long time after the original, with Charlene, or Charlie, McGee (Marguerite Moreau) now being a young adult who has spent most of her life in hiding, as a government group headed by a fellow called John Rainbird (Malcolm McDowell) tries to find her and use her for purposes of war. The story picks up with a young investigator called Vincent Sforza (Danny Nucci) being charged to track down Charlie, although the purposes of the people who want him to do so are not made clear to him. The cruelty and horror of the experiments, as well as Charlie's own mistreatment earlier in her life, are revealed in flashbacks that frequently contradict the previous film (and the novel it is based upon).

    It's hard to discuss the plot objectively without revealing major points in it, but the whole thing reminds me of the posit in which an adolescent who has just been commended in an English class sees X-Men and thinks something along the lines of "yeah, I can do that". The first eighty or so minutes are quite credible, and I found Marguerite Moreau's portrayal of Charlene McGee quite sympathetic - she reminded me of me, as well as a few people I've known, in more ways than one. Where it all falls down, and in spectacular fashion, is when we are introduced to the results of Rainbird's experiments with new drugs, a group of boys who seem more like rejects from X-Men's titular organisation.

    At 161 minutes, Firestarter Rekindled takes some watching, but it's not the most unbearable thing I've ever sat through by a long shot. It's just not really that good, and so on. Marguerite Moreau is a good actor, and while Malcolm McDowell seems to have made a career out of bad career choices since A Clockwork Orange, he continues to prove himself worthy of being called an actor. The rest of the cast aren't even has-beens, they are literal never-weres, and I've frankly seen better acting from Bill Gates when he tries to tell computer users that he has their best interests at heart. The essential problem is that Philip Eisner's script has plot holes you could drive a tank through, and Robert Iscove's ability to compose a shot is questionable at best. A bit of judicious editing wouldn't have gone astray, either.

    Still, if you're bored and need something to rent for an evening, then Firestarter Rekindled certainly provides value for money, considering its length. The transfer isn't too bad, either...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Firestarter Rekindled is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. According to the information on the IMDB, it is a telemovie that was broadcast in 2002, so this would most likely be the proper aspect ratio.

    The sharpness of this transfer is everything that one expects of the DVD-Video format, so there's nothing to worry about here. The shadow detail is a little limited, with dark scenes appearing to have a lot of smudged, inky blanks in a lot of cases. There's a couple of scenes in which clothes are removed, so these may have been deliberately darkened in order to keep the TV people happy. No low-level noise was apparent in the transfer.

    The colours in this transfer are generally subdued and very cold, with little vibrancy. One notable exception to this is the pen in which the young psychic boys are kept, which has been kept bright and dreamy, almost like the set of a children's television show. No composite artefacts or smearing were found in the transfer.

    MPEG artefacts were not noted in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts, on the other hand, are a major, major problem in this transfer. While the telecine is steady throughout, aliasing runs rampant throughout the feature, with nary a shot that doesn't display shimmering of some sort. I counted seventeen major examples in the first hour, with a shimmering effect on the door frame at 50:28 being the most annoying example. The computer used by Danny Nucci's character was also particularly annoying, with the keyboard posing a real problem at such moments as 48:15. No film artefacts were really noticed in this transfer, although there might have been a few small marks on the picture that I missed because I was watching the aliasing. A really good example of edge enhancement can be seen on the front of Marguerite Moreau's face at 122:32, and I suspect that all of the aliasing in this transfer can be blamed on edge enhancement.

    English subtitles are available on this DVD. They contain cues to indicate who is saying what, but there are no cues for sound effects, making them of limited use to those with hearing impairments.

    This disc is RSDL formatted. The layer change takes place at 81:35. This is after Charlie's confrontation with the new batch of psychics, and during a natural fade-to-black, so it is very easily missed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Two soundtracks adorn this DVD. The first, and default, is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack recorded at 384 kilobits per second, while the second choice is a Czech dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding at the modest 192 kilobit per second rate. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even from most of the child actors. No major audio sync problems were noted.

    The score music in this film is credited to Randy Miller, a name I recognise from other B-grade fare such as Hellraiser III or the two Darkman sequels. In those films, as he does with this one, he provides an enthralling atmosphere without stretching beyond the very low-class roots that the story or production of the film is rooted in. Here, the score music often gets very dramatic, almost too much so for its own good in places, but it always fulfils its role of adding atmosphere to the proceedings.

    The surround channels were rather aggressively used throughout the feature in order to provide quite an immersive 5.1 sound field. While there are plenty of overt effects directed into the surround channels, there's a certain constant subtle use of the surround channels that makes effects which would otherwise sound gimmicky seem better integrated. In such scenes as the club at 14:57 or when bullets are ricocheting off walls at 71:04, the surround channels provide precise placement of ambient sound, which would indicate that this telemovie was definitely shot with digital in mind. This prompts me to wonder how it would look and sound when broadcast in HDTV.

    The subwoofer was used more sparingly to add a bottom end to the music in the aforementioned club scene, or when cars explode at such moments as 26:50. These effects mainly coincide with when Charlie is supposed to be using her powers, be it in a flashback or in the here and now.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is moderately animated, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, 16x9 Enhanced, and easy to navigate. The scene selection menu is also animated.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    I can live without subtitles, but a discrete soundtrack and a second layer of space make the local disc the clear winner in this case, especially given the length of the feature.

Summary

    Firestarter Rekindled started off well, but towards the end it dissolved into a bad meshing of the original Firestarter and X-Men, which is a pity because it had a chance to do something creative. Marguerite Moreau and Malcolm McDowell are totally wasted upon this mediocre script, giving performances that suggest they ought to be in something more like Doctor Who than this ordinary attempt to follow on from what was a very complete story.

    The video transfer is very ordinary, thanks to edge enhancement and the resultant aliasing.

    The audio transfer is quite immersive, and works better than the telemovie origins would lead you to believe.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Sunday, November 17, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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