Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002)

In the start of the first decade of the millennium, television networks across the country were mining once popular properties to transform in to television series. TNT sought out “Salem’s Lot” for a series and failed. NBC sought out “Carrie” for a new series and it never blossomed in to anything, and the Scifi Channel in America provided an unofficial sequel to Drew Barrymore’s film “Firestarter” which was basically a two and a half hour television mini-series that they presumed would become a television series. And it never progressed. Which is a shame, because while “Firestarter 2” is no masterpiece much like the first, it had potential to be cult fodder, what with storylines it props up, villains it introduces and the like. I fondly remember seeing “Rekindled” when it originally appeared on television and I found it to be fairly entertaining. Nine years later, it’s still rather entertaining.

Filling in for Drew Barrymore is the steamy and sexy Marguerite Moreau, a woman capable of conveying sultry sexuality and innocence simultaneously. To prevent confusion, the poorly set up prologue indicates a different continuity, in spite of the fact that this is technically a sequel. In spite of that it’s best not to question certain moments where they strive for continuity, and almost get it right. This time around Charlie is on the run after being chased around the country by the government and is able to restart her life incognito. That is until the project that harbored beings of her ilk (which we saw briefly in the first film) are tracking them down to pay them back with massive checks. This is merely a cover for a mass assassination being perpetrated to keep them quiet once John returns once again to re-open the project.

With detective Storza oblivious to the plot and tracking down Charlie, fate comes crashing down her door. This time around writer Eisner expands on the government program and their intentions and adds an entertaining if slightly gimmicky twist by exploring more individuals with powers equaling Charlie’s own. Their introduction is well written with each new nemesis offering their own distinct personality and super power that allows them to not only battle Charlie, but be established for future episodes, should this mini-series blossom in to a series. Dennis Hopper has a downbeat supporting performance (and presumably a supporting role in the series) as Charlie’s cohort and psychic guide, while Malcolm McDowell is menacing as the villainous John. Writer Eisner remains fairly true to the mold of Charlie, depicting her as a woman starved for love struggling to keep her balance between good and evil in the face of her unlimited power.

Unlike the kids in the program she faces, she is still battling with both moral shades, and this culminates in to an inevitable showdown that’s both very exciting and works to establish that Charlie has garnered a firm grasp on her abilities since we last saw her. “Rekindled” is a decent genre offering and one that has sadly faded in to obscurity, but if you’re a fan of the original film, this deserves at least one go around. If only for the insanely sexy Marguerite Moreau. One of the many caveats of the film is the casting of Danny Nucci, who is above and beyond the least likely male protagonist I expected or wanted with this film. For Charlie there needed to be someone more bold and clever with a sheer chemistry with her, and Nucci really doesn’t live up to that expectations. He’s much too soft spoken and humble to act as a worthy foil to Charlie, and brings down a considerably entertaining mini-series.

As for the entire film, it’s much too long in the tooth, indulging in needless exposition and sequences that make no actual sense to the narrative. At over two and a half hours, “Rekindled” could stand to lose twenty minutes of sag, and tighten up the pacing for a sleeker more defined prologue.  It’s been nine years since “Rekindled” premiered on television, so there is a great chance we’ll never see a series. But as a glorified pilot, it’s a well made and entertaining unofficial sequel that suffers from the miscasting of Nucci and being a bit too long in the tooth. Marguerite Moreau is a gorgeous replacement for Barrymore, and folks like McDowell and Hopper provide admirable downbeat performances. It may not be a masterpiece, but “Rekindled” is a fun genre film that expands the “Firestarter” lore, and I had a good time.