Review: Whatever you do, don't get marooned on dull 'Fantasy Island'
Courtesy of Sony
Adapted from the television show that had a decent run from 1977-1894 and then again in 1998-1999, “Fantasy Island” would fly guests for what they imagined would be a getaway that explored their deepest desires and who would go home with a new appreciation of life. Audiences who somehow make the conscious choices of purchasing a ticket to “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island” will leave with a sour taste in their mouth and a new appreciation for good horror movies.
Overwrought and vastly underwritten, “Fantasy Island,” sees Micheal Peña slip into Ricardo Montalban’s iconic white suit (and donning a thick accent) as the suspicious Mr. Roarke, the host of the resort where people go to have their wishes granted. Guests flying in include Melanie (Lucy Hale) whose objective is getting revenge against a bully (Portia Doubleday) who tormented her in high school; step brothers J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) - who must have walked over from the set of “Like of Boss” - want a taste of the wealthy lifestyle complete with extravagant parties and gorgeous babes; cop Patrick (Austin Stowell) wants to get a shot at the military life as he always wanted to enlist but never did; and Gwen (Maggie Q), an entrepreneur who years for a second chance at marriage with the guy she turned down years ago.
Of course, nobody gets exactly what they want on this island, and they learn the hard way that sometimes what you need is standing in front of you. Things get tricky from then on out, as the folks are split up in their fantasies and the jumbled editing cuts back and forth as such, except these goons are so one dimensional and uninteresting, the only salvage “Fantasy Island” has is the secret at the root of the island. How can the exotic location seemingly bring back the dead? Maybe in a limited series that could work, but in “Fantasy Island” the movie, it gets caught between explaining too much and explaining nothing at all. By the time we reach the third act “twist” (if that’s what you want to call it) all logic gets thrown out the window and the plot becomes wholly incomprehensible.
The screenplay by Jeff Wadlow - who also directed - Chris Roach, and Jillian Jacobs sets the movie up for success and the first ariel shot provided by cinematographer Toby Oliver is a beauty as there are numerous callbacks to the series. But it’s not enough to save a project that features one of the most ridiculous conclusions that positively doesn’t land. In fact, it’s cringeworthy. The cast - made up of actors who I assumed got a temporary release from their Freeform contracts - do their best to plow through, especially Peña who works extra hard to peddle the junk this movie is selling.
The ending leaves the door wide open for future installments, and maybe if this was made as like a pilot episode for CBS All Access (because, honestly that’s what this feels like) perhaps it would incline viewers to tune in next week. The good news is you can avoid a trip to “Fantasy Island” at all cost, and for the sake of your sanity and time, don’t end up suffering like the characters in the film. It’s not good for your health.