(US - 2020)
Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Written by Jeff Wadlow, Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs. Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Michael Rooker, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Kim Coates, Mike Vogel, Robbie Jones, Evan Evagora, Goran D. Kleut, Ian Roberts, Charlotte McKinney. (PG-13, 109 mins)
It was only a matter of time before the ball landed on FANTASY ISLAND on the Intellectual Property roulette wheel. Airing on ABC on Saturday nights from 1978 to 1984, FANTASY ISLAND followed THE LOVE BOAT, and both shows offered endless guest spots for both popular TV actors of the time and past-their-prime stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was a big hit and briefly turned Herve Villechaize's Tattoo into a pop culture phenomenon until the reportedly difficult actor was fired from the show just before its final season. Tattoo's catchphrase "The plane! The plane!" is really all anyone remembers about FANTASY ISLAND these days, though it did provide veteran actor and Chrysler pitchman Ricardo Montalban his most recognizable role until 1982's STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN as Mr. Roarke, the mysterious, white-tux-clad overseer of a luxurious vacation getaway where, for a price, visitors could fulfill their ultimate fantasies (or at least as "ultimate" as network TV would allow). There was always a dark undercurrent to the show with its "be careful what you wish for" scenarios, so re-imagining it as a straight-up horror movie might've had some potential, but in the erratic hands of the wildly inconsistent Blumhouse, the end result is an almost total disaster.
"troubling legacy"--so their arrival is met with an exuberant "The plane! The plane!" exclaimed by Julia (Parisa Fitz-Henley), the newly-hired assistant to Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena). The vacationers looking for their greatest wish fulfillment include Gwen (Maggie Q), who turned down a marriage proposal five years earlier and has regretted it every day since; desk-bound cop Patrick (Austin Stowell), who always wanted to follow in his hero father's footsteps and join the military but never did; dudebro stepbrothers J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), who just want a kickass party weekend; and Melanie (Lucy Hale), who's seeking revenge on Sloane (Portia Doubleday), the Mean Girl who made her life hell in high school. Mr. Roarke encourages them to enjoy their fantasies, with the caveat that he is powerless to intervene and that "all fantasies must come to their natural conclusion."
|Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize
in a publicity shot for the original series
revival. Any number of older actors could've brought more suavely erudite gravitas to a new Mr. Roarke: Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem, and Pierce Brosnan immediately jump to mind. Coming soon after the latest revamp of CHARLIE'S ANGELS tanked, FANTASY ISLAND (or, "Blumhouse's FANTASY ISLAND," according to the opening credits) could serve as a teachable moment for producers and studios to cease raiding the back catalog of classic TV intellectual property and maybe come up with some new ideas (you'd think Pena and Hansen would've learned their IP lesson after appearing in 2017's CHiPS, which you completely forgot about, didn't you?). Of course, we know that won't happen, so all we can really do is wait for Blumhouse to get around to putting a DEATH SHIP/GHOST SHIP spin on THE LOVE BOAT, hopefully with the ominous tag line "Come aboard...they're expecting you."