'Fantasy Island' Review: The chaotic fantasy film where dreams come true for a price needs a reality check
It is a melange of genres — there's a sober war story, there is a heartwarming bromance and a rather bizarre revenge fantasy. So, what's real? And what isn't? Whose fantasy are we living in?
Based on the 1970s show of the same name, 'Fantasy Island' revolves around a tourist resort on an island, where the eerie manager Mr Roarke (Michael Pena) promises to make wishes come true.
It's a dream come true to live out a fantasy — but there's a heavy price to pay for it. Blumhouse Productions, which is responsible for 'Paranormal Activity' and 'Get Out', brings to us a rather chaotic and morbid reinvention of the original.
The intention is well-meaning, but it shoots off in so many different angles, that you're left rather perplexed by the end of the film.
Similar to the TV show, the film follows each of the characters through their experiences. It is a melange of genres — there's a sober war story, there is a heartwarming bromance and a rather bizarre revenge fantasy. So, what's real? And what isn't? Whose fantasy are we living in?
The premise is intriguing and the ideas seem perfect in theory. The execution is a congealed mess, save for some emotional moments here and there. Maggie Q's character Gwen initially seemed to have the most absorbing storyline: a woman who wished that she had just said yes to the man she loved.
She lives out her fantasy, with her lover and child. But she knows that even though this is all she's ever wanted, it's not real. How often do we wish to go back in time and relive the moment that changed our lives forever?
How would we do it differently? However, we aren't allowed to dwell too much here and get taken on another wild ride in the movie's second half.
The film tries to get the viewer emotionally invested in the rest of the characters, but after all the random and prolonged action scenes and heavy exposition, you really couldn't care less about most of them.
However, this is the least of the film's problems.
The main villain of 'Fantasy Island' is a character who has suffered much bullying in her past and was thoroughly traumatized by it. The only man who showed some interest in her was killed in a fire. And now she wants revenge on everyone who "moved on" with their lives.
The film doesn't even address this with sensitivity or care, because she's portrayed as a demonic and murderous woman now with unidimensional dialogues to expose her real villainy.
Do bullied and damaged kids always turn out to be psychopaths? Cinema really enjoys beating that dead horse. Apart from this, there's this stereotypical popular girl in school that is always perpetuated in films. Popular girls are mean to everyone else. And of course, they sleep around too.
'Fantasy Island' had a lot of these archetypes. The acting in the film, barring Maggie Q, is rather sub-par and even Lucy Hale's performance isn't that impressive.
Halfway through the film, the writers bring in a new angle completely, which comes across as rather disjointed and even more confusing. The film has a good premise but it could have been much better.
'Fantasy Island' is playing in a theatre near you.