“Fantasy Island”; Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O.Yang, Ryan Hansen Michael Rooker; Direction: Jeff Wadlow; Rating: ** and 1/2 (two and half stars)
Fantasies are lighter than feathers that rarely touch the soil of reality. Or, should we say logic, for that matter? And, if fantasies had logic then this film would have never been made or else it would have been notches down the viewing rung.
But Director Jeff Wadlow’s “Fantasy Island” is an exception, its concept is what holds the film in good stead.
Fantasy Island is a remote tropical resort in the South Pacific. It has a certain magical power that makes the wishes of its visitors come true.
So at the very onset of the narrative, when a new batch of visitors alight from the aircraft, they are informed by the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena) the owner and administrator of Fantasy Island that, “Fantasy Island is where everything and anything is possible.” He refers to fulfilling the secret and ultimate desires of his lucky guests. He ensures that their dreams come true.
“But there are rules,” he warns them. “Once your fantasy rolls out, then you must play out to its logical conclusion, no matter what.”
The guests are; mixed race brothers JD Weaver and Brax Weaver (Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang), a lovelorn Gwen Oslen (Maggie Q), seductress Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale) and Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell) a man who hero-worshipped his father.
When Mr. Roarke reiterates, “ where everything and anything is possible”, Gwen Oslen, shoots back, “But you haven’t told us how.” And this is what keeps you hooked.
One by one, each guest’s fantasy unveils beautifully, then gets twisted and gradually turns into nightmares.
The plot adroitly intertwines tales of sibling bonding, hero-worshiping, revenge and redemption, to form a complex but meaningful narrative with a bouquet of genres ranging from action packed war theme to torture porn, to glossy romance and bromance. Each subplot is astutely etched and mounted.
But then, there are times when the film edges on being ridiculous as there is no correlation between time and space. Each fantasy plays in a different time zone but they seamlessly intersect each other. Thus, one has to constantly remind oneself that these are mere fantasies and dismiss logic.
On the performance front, every actor delivers a meaningful representation of their characters, except for Michael Pena, that’s because his character is flat and has nothing much to offer in terms of histrionics.
While the film has tinges of fantastical traits that intermittently mesmerise you, overall, the film appears chaotic with some good tense and scary moments.