Jacob Richardson | 1/03/2020
A creatively void, decrepit piece of cinema that features a cast intent on doing the absolute least they can.
Gwen (Maggie Q), Melanie (Lucy Hale), Patrick (Austin Stowell), Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) and J. D. Weaver (Ryan Hansen) visit a mysterious island, where Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena) makes their fantasies come true - through to whatever their conclusion may be. Not everything is as it seems, however, and as the fantasies begin to turn sour, the group must work out how to get off the horror island.
Much like a tropical island, Fantasy Island feels lazy, languid, and utterly relaxed. Whether it’s the cast, the costuming, or the story, this entire film feels put together with barely any effort. Director Jeff Wadlow throws us head first into the story, opening with the plane arriving and little to no backstory provided. Character exposition is delivered so impossibly hamfistedly you feel like you’re reading a wikipedia page summarising the synopsis, as opposed to a detailed and nuanced script.
From a performance perspective, everyone feels on autopilot. Michael Pena, with his rumpled, untucked linen shirt occasionally shrouded in a similarly rumpled white linen jacket, seems on the verge of sleep at any given moment. Whether he is rotely delivering a poorly written gag with a sigh, or shuffling aimlessly into the passionless climax of the film to act as an ex machina, he could not be further removed from the energy and fun of his performances in something like Ant Man. Maggie Q, too, deserves better than this tripe. Hansen and Yang, most recently partnered in the similarly awful Like A Boss, are operating at an even worse autopilot rate than in that film. And Lucy Hale struggles fruitlessly to shrug off her made-for-tv personality despite the budget and effects, and likely because of the script.
The script is truly, undeniably woeful; a trainwreck from start to finish, utterly toothless and without intrigue. Every surprise is signposted irrevocably, and every moment of levity and humor clunky and unfunny. It is also desperately unengaging from the perspective of building terror or conveying action. A distinct feeling of listlessness pervades this cinematic escapade, and that leaves one feeling bored, as opposed to on the edge of their seat in terror.
In the end, Fantasy Island disappoints more for its distinct lack of effort than anything else. This feels like a movie that knows it is worthless - a film intent on getting into cinemas no matter it’s complete and utter lack of creative or narrative value.
Ironically, a viewing of Fantasy Island is more tortuous than anything this film subjects its heroes and heroines to.