“Fantasies are a lot like dreams. You rarely remember the details, but you always remember how they make you feel.”– Mr Roarke (Fantasy Island)
And that’s exactly what this movie was, a dream that I already forgot about but remember it boring me to death.
Fantasy Island (2020) is directed by Jeff Wadlow and stars Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, and Austin Stowell, among other people such as Michael Rooker and Ryan Hansen.
It’s also an attempted-yup, you read that right, attempted-Horror remake of the television series of the same name in the 1980’s.
The film is about a group of contestants that win a trip to a fantasy island that is able to grant them their deepest wishes and desires, or fantasies.
The tropical resort is led and orchestrated by a reserved man named Mr. Roarke who guides the contestants along their fantasy path and informs them of necessary information about their short stay.
The group eventually begin to realize that they bit off more than they could chew as they’re dreams consecutively start turning into nightmares and haunt them of their worst fears.
They must learn to cooperate and solve the mystery of the island together before it’s too late and their torments swallow them to their deaths.
Cringy Plot & Abhorrent Writing
This movie was so ridiculously dumb I felt like I lost a couple of IQ points by the end of it.
I don’t even know where to begin.
Where should I start? About how the character’s attempts at making jokes came off as cringy and cliche?
Or how the whole narrative is so chaotic and out of order that nothing seems to make sense with what the contestants are doing?
Whatever the case, the film was so bad it looked like it didn’t even know what genre it wanted to be due to various plot twists and turns that feel jarring and incongruent.
At one point it made itself seem like a comedy with the people poking fun at each other in absurd ways.
Then it tried to be a horror flick with badly edited and predictable jump scares that accomplish nothing but making the viewer turn their head side-to-side in confused bewilderment.
Almost every effort the movie made to try to make me laugh or be scared failed miserably.
And don’t even get me started on the ending and climax.
It turned into some convoluted and disorganized mess that made the whole event look like some absurd Scooby-Doo mystery of a whodunit cartoon puzzle.
By the time the writing and dialogue explained everything so simply and easily with no resemblance of any kind of subtext and interesting backstory, I felt like I had dementia in regards to the beginning and middle part of the story.
I like Michael Pena as an actor, especially his role in Ant-Man(he was really funny), and he strikes me more of as the type of guy who belongs in Comedy movies.
Hence, it wasn’t really a good decision to pick him in this one to play Mr. Roarke.
It’s not his performance so much that I’m criticizing than the choice being made to cast him as a character that doesn’t really fit the tone and personality of the dark and mysterious orchestrator of the ambiguous magical island.
In this portrayal, Pena came off more of as a cheap Hawaiian resort tour guide that acts as a kind of side character in obedience to the authority of the vacation resort.
It looks like he only shows up certain moments to tell the contestants that they should “see the fantasy to its natural conclusion” and then goes away to do some irrelevant thing.
Again, he interacts with another character and informs them to “see the fantasy to its natural end” only to depart unexpectedly in a ridiculous manner.
I’m as perplexed as you are right now. That’s the only effect I received constantly from his performance.
The characters Melanie, Patrick, and the two annoying brothers didn’t even interest me in the slightest bit.
I found myself not really caring that much about their plight often and became progressively irritated with how they had such poor character development.
The only one that caught my attention for even a moment was Maggie Q’s character, Gwen Olsen.
It was interesting how the writers created her backstory and gave her some more depth to her behavior and actions rather than just shoehorning her in the plot to be cannon fodder like the other ones.
Her development needed extra advancement though in my opinion.
Sadly, she ended up just getting mixed in with the ludicrous shenanigans of everyone else.
However, there is one character that made me chuckle, not because of a well executed performance but rather the character design being laughably stupid: Damon, played by Michael Rooker.
A private investigator? Give me a break.
His character honestly looked like a mix between a crazy, homeless man and a spiritual, woo-woo shaman searching for ayahuasca in the amazon jungles.
I couldn’t stop being amused about how strangely dumb he was portrayed. Also, I didn’t really buy his fantasy story of him having a daughter and being reunited with her only to lose her again as a zombie.
It would have been more believable-and hear me out on this-if instead they showed Merle Dixon rekindling his relationship with Daryl (For those who know what I’m talking about, you know).
Fantasy Island overall was mentally exhausting and fatiguing for me.
If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t waste your time.
This frankly could have had a lot of prospective possibility if the story and writing were written with deep careful consideration and the characters were allowed room for growth through effective dialogue rather than corny jokes which served no purpose whatsoever.
It could’ve given the viewer a more in-depth look at a fresh movie concept with great imaginative qualities.
Unfortunately that was squandered. What a shame, this could’ve been praiseworthy material.
FP Score – Melancholy