At the other end of the remake spectrum is ABCs Fantasy Island, a brand name so blessedly content-free that its impossible to travesty. At first, producer Barry Sonnenfelds new wrinkles seem intended to add significance; the premise is now openly supernatural, with our host Mr. Roarke (Malcolm McDowell in Ricardo Montalbans old part) and his henchmen doing penance for past sins by running a cosmic luxury resortwhich still looks like nice work if you can get it. Soon, though, you comfortably gather that these affectations of depth are simply au courant stylistic crotchets to justify jazzier special effects. Sonnenfeld may like to flirt with meaning, but its not like hes going to commit adultery with it.
Even so, the new Fantasy Island has wound up being about something, if only by defaultand the contrast to Rear Window is interesting, because the subject is Malcolm McDowells career. Not only is his role as the trapped majordomo of a kitsch paradise catering to inane daydreams a perfect metaphor for the bad movies and silly TV shows hes been stuck in since A Clockwork Orange, but McDowell seems to know it. Maybe Montalban did too. But while he was smooth, his replacement is caustic, relishing every chance the scripts allow him to express disdain; it may be buffoonery, but its sure got more edge than the plots, which turn out to be as homiletic as the old shows despite Sonnenfelds hip embellishments. Who knows, McDowell might even be able to reveal to Sammo Hung, the star of Fantasy Islands CBS competition, Martial Law, where Hungs other 14 minutes are hidingIve never seen a vogue zip by so fast in my life.
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