Waiting for the leap from cinema to streaming does not always bring a reward. This is how it provesflames of revenge”, the science fiction film that has just premiered on HBO Max, several months after its arrival in theaters in the United States (May 2022).
Directed by Keith Thomas, this hour and a half long film is an adaptation of the novel “Firestarter”, which the famous American writer Stephen King published back in 1980, and whose title in its Spanish translation is “Ojos de fuego”.
“flames of revenge” stars Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), a girl with the power of pyrokinesis who tries to keep her parents, Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) away from responsible government leadership, in part, of its existence. In that way?
In their college days, Andy and Vicky agreed to undergo an FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration Agency) trial. Apparently, as a result of this test, Charlie was born with the ability to create and control fire. Although initially the idea of those responsible for the study was to keep the girl under strict control, she fled with her parents.
Precisely “Flames of Vengeance” begins almost anticipating everything that we will see next. Father, mother and daughter are almost hidden in a house, without access to media such as television or cell phones. In the same way, Andy – in a succession of events as quick as it is incomprehensible – goes from holding his newborn daughter in the cradle to, later, making pancakes for her in her teens. In the midst of all this, the minor tries to understand what her real power is.
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Following two narrative lines, Keith Thomas’s film initially shows us, in a rather poor attempt to generate drama, two parents locked in a debate about whether or not they should raise their daughter aware of her pyrokinesis power. Vicky is in favor, but Andy strongly believes that not talking to the girl about it will protect her from further danger.
For this it is worth saying that the character played by Zac Efron is not, shall we say, simple. He has a strange ability to hypnotize people. Based on this, he decides to ‘charge’ a hundred dollars per session to any stranger who wants, for example, to quit smoking. In itself, as it happens in several moments of the plot, this ‘problem’ of Andy’s is not exploited beyond the tears of blood that each of his rare ‘sessions’ produce.
The second narrative line has to do with features typical of a thriller. Those responsible for the experiment that led to Charlie’s birth search for her by sky, sea and land. Her goal is to use her super powers for subaltern purposes. Here a series of characters appear as dark as poorly designed. From the convalescent doctor Joseph Wanless (Kurtwood Smith) to Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben), who many times we don’t know very well if she is good or bad, passing through Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), a guy who shares extraordinary abilities like Charlie, but who ends up cornered as a simple hitman for hire.
If something characterizes “flames of revenge” is the feeling of flight that leaves us throughout its 90-minute duration. It’s easier for Andy to put his daughter in a van and run away than to sit down and explain the origin and magnitude of his power.
Perhaps because of the latter, and already on the side of (very few) points in favor, the film shows us the growth and (self) learning of a girl with super powers. Thus, little Charlie will be an accomplice of the viewer in a path of ups and downs. From charring a golden cat because she scratches his hand, to trying to end -unsuccessfully- the lives of four villains in fireproof suits.
There are several conclusions that a film like this leaves us. The first, beyond Zac Efron’s good attempts to outline in Andy the idea of a concerned and responsible father, the result is unsatisfactory because he is always at the mercy of an unambitious script. From the other side, Sydney Lemmon’s performance as Vicky (Charlie’s mother) is limited to two or three sentences and a terrible accident with fire. That is to say, zero attempts to delve into the emotional state of the parents of the star of the film.
Stephen King is considered one of the most notable fiction writers of recent decades. “flames of revenge” is not the first adaptation to one of his books (“Carrie”, “it”, “The Shining”, among others), however, if one of the positive effects of seeing adaptations is to run to the bookstore to look for the written copy, probably on this occasion there is a high risk that this will not happen.
FLAMES OF REVENGE/ HBO MAX
director: Keith Thomas
Cast: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, Gloria Reuben
Synopsiss: Blumhouse brings an explosive adaptation of Stephen King’s thriller about a girl with extraordinary powers of pyrokinesis who must protect her family and her freedom from a secret agency that seeks to capture her to use her power.
Duration: 134 minutes
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“Flames of revenge”, the worst possible homage to a Stephen King novel? | REVIEW
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