I am going to start by saying that I am no Stephen King fan, as a matter of fact, he is the most overrated author on the planet, and was often accused of writing for the movies. Well, excuse me, but that's exactly what he has always done. He constantly complained about adaptions, but it didn't stop him from raking in the dollar signs when he gave them the rights. I have read several of his books and I was not impressed at all, except for his early ones, like The Shining and Salems' Lot. I read Firestarter too, and it was awful. But the film was a major improvement and brought the story to life in incredible detail.
The cast was also unbelieveably strong, basically an allstar who's who of Hollywood and many performances were a tad over the top, but in a film such as this, larger than life performances from veterans like George C. Scott and Martin Sheen and David Keith are what you need.
For me, this film belongs totally to Drew Barrymore. She will always be the Firestarter for me, a part she was meant for and she is incredibly endearing and it makes the governement villians in this even more despicable and it makes you hate them more for what they do to her and her father. Governement agencies really do get a kick out of breaking up families like that and it's laid on heavily here, nothing short of fascism. And when Charley uses her powers, it's visually impressive and you just have to cheer the little blonde one on. It's terribly sad at times, but that makes it work so much the better. George C Scott's chilling hitman villian of course could have stolen the show, especially when he 'makes friends with her and becomes close' and nearly did when I first saw it, but Drew matched him every step of the way and (slight spoiler alert) wins in the end.
The film packs a very strong emotional punch, the stuntwork and pyrotechnics are often breathtaking and the visual effect of Charley's hair blowing and the sound effect that comes along with it is extremely clever, and wasn't in the book by the way. Logic has nothing to do with it, it's a film, which uses visual tricks and sound to tell the story, get over it.
I have always been a big fan of this film and congrats to Mark L. Lester for pulling off an unfairly mauled underrated classic. I am having to buy it again too, since the version I had is released by another company, not Universal, and so you lose a whole chunk of the beginning, which is no good to me. Big price though, but it's worth it.