2020 Reviews

Fantasy Island Isn’t Actually That Bad

During its opening weekend I caught Fantasy Island, or rather, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island, just in case you somehow get it confused with the 1970s-80s television show. After seeing it I was honestly a little surprised by the incredibly low score on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Is it shallow? Yeah. Was it supposed to be? Possibly. Does it sometimes appear to lack focus? Yes. Does that sometimes make it more interesting? Also yes.

I’ve noticed a trend over the years that when a movie is hated or highly disliked, critics will take it and run with it (think Cats). There’s also a good chance they’ll pretend to hate it more than they probably do. Hate generates clicks. Passionate love, casual admiration, or even indifference does not. It’s probably why “cancel culture” has become a thing. You gotta love film journalism these days.

Is Fantasy Island one of the worst movies ever? No. I don’t understand critics’ fascination with movies being the worst movie they’ve ever seen beyond the fact it gets more clicks. I’ve seen far worse movies than Fantasy Island. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in the theater is Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) and it certainly isn’t close to being that bad.

There are a few issues with Fantasy Island that I’ve seen consistently pop up with reviews. Its tone is one of them. Like I addressed at the start of the review, it does seem to lack focus. It’s hard to figure out what kind of movie it wants to be and it seems to want to be everything. For example, it wants to be a comedy, a romance, and a horror. The tone does shift often, but I never found it too jarring.

The movie shifts tones when it switches between each character’s fantasy, which makes sense. Maggie Q’s character Gwen wants a second chance with a former boyfriend so her fantasy is romantic. Randall, played by Austin Stowell, wants to play soldier so his fantasy is Predator-esque. When you have each character have a different fantasy it’s not an outlandish approach to have them dictate the tone of the scene and have that tone change from scene to scene based off of the fantasy. I think that from a viewing standpoint the movie is more interesting because of that because it’s an approach that we don’t see often. With that being said, I don’t think it works well in terms of the movie flowing effortlessly.

Yeah, there are some lame jokes in there (i.e. holograms), but they aren’t any dumber than other PG-13 jokes from horror movies. I fail to see anything here that Fantasy Island does worse than other movies from its genre that warrants it being hated as much as it was. One thing they actually do better is I think the backstories for the characters’ fantasies are slightly more complex than I expected from a PG-13 horror. Besides that, most of the other aspects of the film vary from mediocre to slightly below mediocre. I thought the ending was lame, therefore bad, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind right now with anything being outright bad. Fantasy Island‘s foremost problem is that it’s shallow and forgettable like many PG-13 horrors these days.

I started writing this review two weeks ago for my initial thoughts of the film. At that time critics were talking about how this was one of the worst movies they had ever seen and everyone was hating on it for fun. Now, a week later, no one cares anymore. I don’t know if this says more about people’s love to hate on things they don’t truly hate for impressions or if it shows how fast the news cycle is. Or maybe it’s a result of how forgettable Fantasy Island actually is.

If everyone has already stopped talking about it more than a week after its release, was it really that bad?


2016 Reviews

Allegiant (2016)

Allegiant is another misfire for the Divergent Series. The story is fairly uninteresting and appears to take way too much from other dystopian movies. Allegiant feels very much like The Giver meets Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. There’s nothing new or exciting in Allegiant. Not to mention, it lacks any real surprises.


2015 Reviews

Insurgent (2015)

Insurgent is the first disappointment of the year for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed Divergent and this sequel really let me down.  The main problem with Insurgent lies with its narrative.  The majority of the movie consists of Four (Theo James) telling Tris (Shailene Woodley) what she shouldn’t do, which is pointless because she always does the opposite.  It’s exhausting to continue to watch the main character make bad decisions, thinking it’ll work out, only to find out that it was indeed a bad idea.  Tris seems to be oblivious to the way her world works and then it appears to change in order to fit the dumb choices she makes.  Insurgent is overly long.  And it does not help that the same thing seems to keep happening over and over again.  In addition, there are a large number of eye-rolling close calls and lucky conveniences.  I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent, but if you plan on watching the whole franchise you might as well see it.


2014 Reviews

Divergent (2014)

When I saw the reviews sprinkling in over the course of the week leading up to its release, I got a little worried.  I was afraid it would disappoint me like The Spiderwick Chronicles did several years ago.  It was troubling for me to see the poor reviews because it was so widely advertised. Divergent ran a pretty extensive advertising campaign as far as I’m concerned.  For two months you could not see a movie at Regal Cinemas without seeing an exclusive look at it.  Of course, that was not the only way they got the word out.  They used television, social media, and billboards to promote it, but that’s the one that affected me the most.  Usually when a movie has that many advertisements it’s destined to be well-liked among critics, such as both Hunger Games movies.  After seeing the reviews, I was afraid that Divergent wouldn’t lead up to my expectations.  I can gladly say that Divergent lived up to its hype. Divergent captured me right away with its premise.  Although I believe that the introduction to the world it takes place in is a little rushed, it was very easy to keep up.  The details the film talked about in the beginning were exemplified throughout the film.  For the most part, I found the screenplay to be well-written.  The parts with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) alone together were not awkward like the scenes between Ender and Petra in Ender’s Game.  There were very few cheesy moments. For me, Divergent‘s greatest component is its pacing.  Given how fast the story moves along, it is remarkable how well the film flows without ever feeling rushed.  Unfortunately, its brilliant pacing collapsed in the last twenty minutes.  It felt like the screenwriters crammed too much into a very little amount of time.  However, I still give it great praise for what it was able to accomplish for the two hours leading up to that point. Another aspect of the film that really stood out to me was its theme and message.  It was more apparent, at least on screen, than The Hunger Games.  I think its focus on conformity and how people should not strive to conform is very important, especially to the film’s targeted demographic.  A person should be encouraged to think the way he or she wants to think, not the way everyone else does. All in all, Divergent is a really good movie.  It is packed with plenty of action and fun and I highly recommend that you go see it!  If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games or dystopian movies you should not miss this one.  Do not diverge from Divergent!  Sorry.  Once again, I had to say it… 7.4/10.0