Review: Fantasy Island commits the ultimate cinematic sin: It’s boring
Five friends at a distant trip resort discover their fantasies are turning into nightmares in Sony Pictures’ big-screen reboot of Fantasy Island, based mostly on the widespread TV sequence of the similar title that ran from 1977 to 1984. This 21st-century replace performs up the horror features and has been touted as a cross between Westworld and The Cabin in the Woods—maybe with just a little little bit of Lost thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, the movie fails to seize any of the parts that made these works uniquely interesting, and the result’s a muddled mishmash of drained tropes and yawn-inducing plot twists you’ll be able to see coming from miles away.
(Mild spoilers beneath the gallery.)
Fantasy Island was at all times a terrific storytelling idea, regardless of its cheesier parts. Apparently, creator Aaron Spelling pitched the sequence to ABC executives as a joke after they’d rejected all his different concepts—and the community cherished it. The ultra-urbane Ricardo Montalbán performed the dashing Mr. Roarke, proprietor of the titular island, offering friends the probability to dwell out their fantasies for an acceptable value. He was aided by his trusty sidekick Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize). Every episode opened with Tattoo shouting the catchphrase, “Ze plane! Ze plane!” and ringing a bell in the island’s principal tower as friends arrived.
The sequence centered on the totally different fantasies of particular friends, who inevitably discovered issues didn’t play out fairly the means they’d imagined. While the guidelines of engagement held that friends should see their fantasies by to the finish, it doesn’t matter what, Mr. Roarke at all times intervened if issues bought too harmful. The sequence had sure supernatural parts (time journey was frequent, and ghosts, genies, and the satan himself made appearances), notably in later seasons, with hints that Mr. Roarke was fairly probably immortal.
An tried revival of the sequence in 1998 leaned even more durable into the supernatural features, by which Fantasy Island was offered as a type of limbo and a supply for Mr. Roarke’s supernatural powers, whereas the many assistants who labored there have been paying off some unnamed debt. That reboot bombed and was mercifully canceled midseason.
This newest reboot preserves a lot of the unique premise. Per the official synopsis: “The enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), makes the secret desires of his fortunate friends come true at an opulent however distant tropical resort. But when the fantasies flip into nightmares, the friends have to unravel the island’s thriller with a view to escape with their lives.”
Be cautious what you would like for
Gwen (Maggie Q, Divergent, Nikita) is a profitable businesswoman crammed with remorse who needs to vary the previous—particularly, her refusal of a wedding proposal years earlier than. Melanie (Lucy Hale, Pretty Little Liars) needs to take revenge on the imply lady who bullied her in highschool, Sloane (Portia Doubleday, Mr. Robot). Patrick (Austin Stowell, Bridge of Spies) is a former police officer who needs to serve in the military like his lifeless father. And stepbrothers JD (Ryan Hansen, Veronica Mars) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang, Silicon Valley)—properly, they’re a few perennial frat boys whose fantasy is to “have it all.” This interprets right into a wild poolside rave with numerous stunning individuals at a mansion that additionally boasts a cache of weapons and a panic room.
Those are lots of storylines to juggle over the course of a 109-minute film, which implies we by no means get to spend a lot time with anyone character. There’s a purpose the TV present solely featured two or three fantasies per episode. So the friends are little greater than evenly sketched caricatures, fairly than well-developed characters. It’s laborious to change into too emotionally invested of their fates. The sole exception is Gwen, who’s haunted by a tragic mistake in her previous and tries to set it proper—stumbling on the fact about why they’re all there in the course of. Maggie Q deserves kudos for imbuing a criminally underwritten function with a lot intelligence and considerate remorse.
The unique TV sequence was content material to depart the query of the true nature of Mr. Roarke and Fantasy Island a thriller. That was a smart determination. The movie tries to provide a rudimentary clarification for each that, frankly, is in the end unsatisfying. There is a lot that’s by no means defined, like why the “employees” of Fantasy Island appear to be zombies with black goo oozing out of their eyes when they’re “killed” (not that they keep lifeless). The final third of the film is a frenetic mess, with predictable twists shoehorned into an already complicated script, with little obvious thought as as to whether these turns make sense for the characters.
It’s a disgrace, as a result of the uncooked materials and primary premise maintain promise. Perhaps it could have labored higher as a miniseries on a streaming service, so the characters and themes might be totally fleshed out right into a extra satisfying entire. But maybe not. Above all, Fantasy Island is boring—probably the worst sin a movie can commit.
Listing picture by Sony Pictures Entertainment