Fantasy Island (United States, 2020)

February 14, 2020
A movie review by James Berardinelli
Fantasy Island Poster

The television series Fantasy Island was a TV staple in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Paired with The Love Boat, it ran for seven seasons from 1978 (when it arrived as a mid-season replacement) until 1984. The high-concept, low-intelligence show is best remembered as a starring vehicle for the suave Ricardo Montalban, who was best known for three things in the early 1980s: Mr. Roarke, Khan, and rich Corinthian leather. Re-making Fantasy Island without Montalban would seem to be a dubious prospect at best and “at best” doesn’t come close to applying when considering director Jeff Wadlow’s vision.

The sad thing about Fantasy Island is that the premise has promise in a Westworld-y fashion. One of the most pressing questions asked by almost any thinking person watching the TV show is why no one had darker or racier fantasies. The movie addresses that oversight by taking the Fantasy Island concept and making it the basis of a “horror” movie. Alas, it appears that this is yet another of those nostalgia-based concepts that should have been left on the drawing board. Instead of wondering what might have been, we’re forced to endure the agony of what is.