Fantasy Island review
We've all been asked the question of in case we ever encountered a genie, then what would our wishes be. The moral of most of these stories is that the wishes never come out like the wisher had in mind. Perhaps they wanted a million dollars, but when they got the pile of money, it turned out to come right from a bank who reported it missing. Or maybe they wished to be a very powerful person, and they ended up becoming a drug lord. Wishes gone wrong have been subject to a lot of movies and television. One example was from the popular 70s/80s show Fantasy Island.
Fantasy Island took new guests that would arrive to fulfill whatever fantasy they desired. The wishes were engineered by the island's keeper, Mr. Roarke, who told guests they had to see their fantasies through their natural conclusion. Though I haven't seen a lot of it, the show made for an eerie, Twilight Zone type feeling in which lessons would be learned, but all within this tropical paradise. There's even an underlying darkness that has potential to be further explored. It's too bad they got the wrong people to handle the movie adaptation of Fantasy Island.
Several people have won a contest where the prize is a free trip to Fantasy Island. The winners include a businesswoman Gwen Olsen (played by Maggie Q), officer Patrick (played by Austin Stowell), stepbrothers J.D. (played by Ryan Hansen) and Brax (played by Jimmy O. Yang), and troubled young woman Melanie (played by Lucy Hale). They are astound by the islands beauty and are eager to take advantage of the "fantasy" aspect, despite having no cell service or internet. Their greeted by Mr. Roarke (played by Michael Peña) who tells them they have to see the fantasy to their natural conclusion.
With Melanie's fantasy, she's getting revenge on a childhood bully who she says ruined her life. In Patrick's fantasy, he gets his chance to enlist in a combat war and serving with the troops. In J.D.'s and Brax's fantasy, they now have the mansion of their dreams and they party. In Gwen's fantasy, she gets a second chance to say yes in a marriage proposal she initially rejected. As they do, they all go wrong as each guest tries to make heads and tails of what's going on. This leads them to dive deeper into the island, figure out Mr. Roarke's intentions and see how everything works.
It seems like that director Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare) wanted to take the show Fantasy Island and mix it with themes from Lost and Westworld, which isn't a bad idea, especially if done with the right kind of horror. In fact, for the first part, I'm even drawn into some of the ideas…with the keyword being some. The fantasies with the brothers and Melanie aren’t that interesting and predictable. But the fantasies involving Patrick and Gwen do carry a lot of weight within their personas and how their connected to the island. It's too bad most of the movie really falls apart after forty-five minutes.
I'm not sure why the script had prepared it in this manner, but in an attempt to connect all the guests, the plot get way too complicated and pretentious. They'll refer to a fire that had everyone involved, but when the movie reveals whose significant other died, you almost forgot that they were referenced to at all. Plus, many of the characters, including Mr. Roarke, are too unlikable to sympathize with. They all seem to have troubled pasts, but the movie is more focused on scaring you then trying to draw an emotional connection.
Speaking of which, this movie barley qualifies as a horror. I'd count this as more of a fantasy-thriller, but even that feels very tame compared to other R rated materiel we've had recently.
Casting wise, the movie is spotty with that. Players like Maggie Q, Austin Stonwell and Michael Rooker do fine, but everyone else is either over-the-top or giving the minimum for a performance. Unfortunately, as much as I like Michael Peña, he was miscast for Mr. Roarke, who doesn't come off charming or enchanting enough. They really needed a George Clooney or Antonio Banderas.
I'll give this two Fantasy Island TV show dvds out of five. Except for some nice scenery, there's not much I can recommend as even the running time feels too long for it's own good. This is one fantasy I wont see to it's natural conclusion.