And as before, Peña is the least bad thing about an enterprise whose reason to exist seems tenuous at best. After all, “Fantasy Island” isn’t exactly a franchise that commands much cultural capital today, more than 40 years after its small screen heyday. And while producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse shingle has built a well-earned reputation for reliable chills on a low budget, the very audiences who might be drawn in will probably be clueless as to its origins, which in turn makes one wonder who the movie is made for.
By way of explanation, the original television incarnation of “Fantasy Island” (created by Gene Levitt) was a frothy confection that emerged from producer Aaron Spelling’s late ’70s assembly line. The ABC show starred Montalbán as the caretaker — alongside faithful aide-de-camp Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize) — of a mysterious island where celebrity guest stars would arrive every week in hopes of having their fantasies fulfilled.
These fantasies would play out less like a Fox reality show and more like O. Henry fables, with our weekly celebs (Look, it’s Peter Graves from “Mission: Impossible”! And hey, it’s Marcia from “The Brady Bunch”!) learning valuable life lessons before the credits rolled each week. Neither as weightless as “The Love Boat” nor as deep as “The Twilight Zone,” “Fantasy Island” was an inconsequential thing that managed to last for seven seasons (and most of that by coasting on Montalbán’s considerable charm).
One can see the appeal in giving a familiar name the Blumhouse twist, but as written and directed by Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”), it feels like less of a fully formed story than a series of “Saw”-lite horror cliches acted out by characters seemingly engineered to be either bland or unlikable, with no middle ground. As the film begins, a plane (or should I say, “The plane! The plane!”) arrives at the titular tropical paradise, with each occupant promised an experience that will fulfill their long-held fantasies.
There’s Gwen (Maggie Q), who regrets a decision she made five years ago. There’s Melanie (Lucy Hale), who harbors resentment over something that happened to her in high school. There’s Patrick (Austin Stowell), who dreams of being a soldier. And lastly, there are brothers J.D. and Brax (Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O. Yang), who just want it all (which, yeah, in their case, does end up looking like a Fox reality show).
Of course, this being “Fantasy Island” (more important, this being Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island”), things don’t go as smoothly as the characters expect, and before you can say, “Be careful what you wish for!” we start the clock on discomfort for them and apathy for us. The problem here is less of concept — a horror twist on the old TV show’s premise is actually a pretty clever idea — but of execution. With a PG-13 rating and a two-hour run time, it’s both too tame and too long for what it’s trying to be.
Air Conditioning Water Chiller
Unfortunately, the scares aren’t particularly scary, the lessons aren’t particularly compelling, and the ultimate resolution takes far too long to arrive at a conclusion that’s far too pat. The third act attempts to pile plot twist atop plot twist like some misbegotten Jenga tower, but the coup de grace is so ludicrous that the whole thing falls in on itself, pulling whatever vestiges of our emotional investment remain down with it.
That said, there’s something about Peña’s presence on the bill that just classes up the joint. The actor is clearly having a blast rolling his R’s like Ricardo. Even as the mystery surrounding Roarke’s origin and goal on the island doesn’t really add up to much (and there’s a nod to the TV show inserted at the end that’s so ham-fisted as to become unintentionally hilarious), he’s still fun to watch.
Unfortunately, that alone isn’t enough to justify the trip to the theater. In the end, you’re better off sticking with reruns.
Plastic Injection Molding, Plastic Injection Mold Machinery - JUST,https://www.justplasmac.com/