The hero of the movie is Charlie McGee, she’s a young girl, but you don’t want to make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. No, seriously, she’s a pyrokinetic and the power is shown to react to her emotions, so making her angry is a very bad idea.
The movie has a surprisingly large cast. You’ve got David Keith (not to be confused with Keith David), you’ve got Drew Barrymore and Heather Locklear in some of their earlier roles, George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Art Carney, and Louise Fletcher also have supporting roles. All of them do well in the roles, but George C. Scott is the highlight performer as Rainbird.
Andy and Charlie start off as kind of annoying, whiny, and unsympathetic, but as the movie progresses you do begin to sympathize with them more and they actually become fairly likable. The soundtrack is all techno. It works for some scenes, but some variety would’ve been nice too.
It’s revealed through flashback that Charlie’s father, Andy, signed up for medical experiments with an organization called “The Shop” in order to make some quick cash. The drug they gave him granted him a degree of telepathy. He most frequently uses it to “push” people. It’s a more aggressive Jedi mind trick. He uses it to trick a cabbie into thinking he’s getting a $500 bill when it’s really just $1 and he even manages to “push” a pay phone into giving him quarters. He takes his daughter on the run to avoid being experimented on and turned into weapons.
There’s one scene where a scientist is speculating on the degree of her power and says that she could cause nuclear explosions or even tear the world apart. I don’t buy that, at all. However as the climax and the confrontation on the farm make perfectly clear, Charlie is a force to be reckoned with and you can see why they would want to harness her power for their gain. She proves herself to be a devastating one person army, while simply standing still.
Her escape from the shop really is a crowning moment of awesome. Up until this point, she had set things on fire and caused some water to boil, and even this required her to put in a great effort to reign it in. After the Shop takes away the one thing she valued more than anything, she went off. She got to the point where she could make bullets explode before they hit her and even started launching fireballs she conjured out of mid-air. It’s a great, awe-inspiring scene.
The Manders’ are surprisingly accepting of the whole thing when the duo seek refuge. Andy tells Irv Manders what the situation is and Irv just buys it where most would assume that he was crazy. Actually, a lot of people are trusting in this movie. The duo hitch rides on a regular basis, and even Charlie hitchhikes on her own with no trouble. No one in their right mind would put themselves in that situation nowadays.
The movie stays close to the book for the most part. There are several changes, but they are aesthetic in nature and there isn’t any serious deviation. If you wanted to nitpick it to death, you probably could, but unless you’re a stickler you should be able to enjoy the movie on it’s own. I wouldn’t cite it as one of the great King adaptations, but it’s certainly a good one.