Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this content will likely be unpopular.
The idea that all successful or beloved properties are in need of a modern reboot continues to plague modern cinema. While many of these films possess a certain level of charm or merit – often by adding something worthwhile or interesting to an existing idea – there are always a handful that feel like nothing more than cheap cash-ins.
Fantasy Island is very much one of these films. Having never seen the TV show that inspired it, I’d hasten to add that I went into the film impervious to any potential offense at its handling of the source material.
What’s evident from Fantasy Island‘s opening scenes is that its a generic horror movie. By establishing a reasonably sized ensemble cast, the film quickly sets about shoehorning in as many references to the original show as possible, attempting to capitalize on Michael Peña’s screen presence to fill the role of the mysterious Mr. Roarke.
From there, Fantasy Island begins telling its story without any real attempt at coherence. It simply jumps from one scene to the next, and the closest to any explanation is that “the island is magic”. There’s nothing clever in its plot, nothing thought-provoking, just the same tired plot threads that arise whenever a movie is made with the basis of the old adage: be careful what you wish for.
Fantasy Island‘s cast do a passable job of acting out its story, but it feels more like a soap opera than a legitimate horror movie. There’s very little emotion involved, and even where there is, it’s lost in the film’s flimsy attempt at mystery. A handful of poor accents and misguided action scenes later, and the film’s twist arrives in such an anti-climactic and apathetic manner that all semblance of logic has proved to be the film’s biggest fantasy of all.
Fantasy Island‘s final scenes establish its status as a prequel with an apparent aim to set up theoretical sequels that are both unwarranted and unearned.
Fantasy Island certainly isn’t a good movie. It falls just short of average, making it hard to feel anything but a general and vague notion of having wasted two hours watching it. However, its story builds enough that it’s watchable, and though it’s not particularly enjoyable, it reaches an adequate conclusion.
It’s hard to see how a sequel or franchise could save it, as it seems that the only place to go for Fantasy Island is down. Its story is filled with plot holes that are flimsily plastered over with vague allusions to “the magic of the island”, but this isn’t something that’s explored in any real sense. As a film, it’s just about watchable, and that’s the best that can be said for it.
Summary: Fantasy Island tries to capitalize on nostalgia, but it does so with a film that’s devoid of any real merit. It’s not bad in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s far enough from good that it’s really not worth seeing.
Highlight: There’s some pleasant visuals involved with the film’s island setting – that’s as close to a highlight as Fantasy Island offers.