Fantasy Island (2020)
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Fantasy Island, also released as Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, is a 2020 American supernatural horror-comedy film written and directed by Jeff Wadlow. Serving both as a darker reimagining and a prequel to ABC's 1977 television series of the same name, it follows a group of people who, while visiting the eponymous island, discover that their dream fantasies brought to life begin to turn into horrific living nightmares they must try to survive. Jason Blum produced the film through his Blumhouse Productions banner. Fantasy Island was theatrically released in the United States on February 14, 2020 by Sony Pictures.
The enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort, but when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island's mystery in order to escape with their lives.
Why This Movie Isn't Your Fantasy
- Abysmal grasp of the original source material: It doesn't really feel like the original 1970s series, as the original was fun and lighthearted in tone, whereas this film feels rather dark and gory; this angered and horrified those who grew up with the original series. It also doesn't help that nothing in this film is like the original series, aside from the inclusion of Mr. Roarke.
- Mr. Roarke acts rather out-of-character: in this film he distorts and tortures the guests visiting the island for his own pleasure, whereas in the original series he acts more benevolent and constantly tries to show the guests visiting the island that fantasies can be dangerous.
- The film relies too much on jumpscares and body horror compared to the psychological and realistic conflicts in the original; much of the attempts at humor also feel incredibly out-of-place, with the attempts at situation-based humor feeling like a bad attempt at copying The Cabin in the Woods.
- Abysmal acting, even from decent actors like Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, Michael Rooker, and Jimmy O. Yang, with none of the cast members showing any enthusiasm with their roles.
- The whole thing where the island said they'll grant wishes is pretty generic, it's basically overused too many times like when a genie grants you only one wish in a certain type of franchise but soon the characters will likely regretted making that wish only you have to "drink the water" to get the wish.
- One of the examples is that Patrick wishes to become a solider but he actually wants to see his daddy again.
- Lucy Hale was completely dumb during this movie, when she wishes that her bully gets tortured, she thought that the monster was a hologram when it's an actual monster since she wasn't being specific.
- The murders of the film looks like copies from other characters, one of the examples of this is that one of them look like a copy of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise.
- Anachronism: While this is supposed to be a prequel to the original series, which takes place in the decade it was filmed and released in, there are showcases of and references to the Internet as well as contemporary popular culture.
- Unlikable characters, especially Melanie (an extremely emotionally disturbed young woman with no redeeming qualities whatsoever) and Patrick (a cop who becomes extremely power-hungry once he gets his fantasy there).
- A confusing and strange message at the end of the film - while Mr. Roarke was trying to show the guests that fantasies are not always ideal, he still says that they shouldn't stop following their dreams as long as they don't hurt anyone.
- Mr. Roarke trying to show the guests that fantasies are not always ideal is also undermined by what appears to be him distorting and torturing the guests for his own pleasure.
- False advertising: The trailers exclusively show Melanie as the only island guest (presumably because Lucy Hale, her actress, is the most popular person in the cast aside from Michael Peña), but her role is extremely limited in the second half of the film; one trailer additionally shows additional footage of the scene with Melanie torturing her childhood bully that was not included in the theatrical release.
- J.D. and Brax, two stepbrothers who visit the island with the goal of getting rich, are likable characters and have believable character development.
- Despite acting out-of-character, Mr. Roarke is also likable enough, and, while somewhat boring, Michael Peña did a good job playing him in a way that respects the late Ricardo Montalbán's portrayal of him in the classic series.
- The film is well-shot and the special effects look very good.
- A decent soundtrack from Bear McCreary, known for his work on Battlestar Galactica, Human Target, and several video game soundtracks.
Fantasy Island received extremely negative reviews from critics, audiences and fans of the show. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 8% based on 107 critics, with an average rating of 3.40/10. The site's critics consensus read: "Fantasy Island tries to show audiences the dark side of wish fulfillment, but mainly serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of exhuming long-dead franchises.". On Metacritic, the film had a score of 21 out of 100 based on 29 critic reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D+" on an A+ to F scale.
Despite receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews, Fantasy Island was a box office success, grossing $48 million worldwide against its $7 million production budget.