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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

Quick Reviews: '7500', 'Fantasy Island' | Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lucy Hale, Supernatural Horror

Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a headset, Lucy Hale gasping
7500 (L), Fantasy Island (R)


A film like 7500 isn’t the expected one for someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt to come back in a major role. Not being flashy in any way and instead being minimalistic, there’s something to admire about that approach whether or not it comes to full fruition. Starting with a co-pilot and a plane while later introducing a hijacking by terrorists, it’s a tough job to make something spectacular out of it even before confiding to only the cockpit. There’s certainly enough forward momentum in its pacing but the limitations do turn into a nuisance.

Taking into consideration the least possible blocking and attention grabbers in the set, this is an extremely tough feat for an editor. Somehow miraculously that becomes the film’s strongest outing as Hansjörg Weißbrich cuts things with precision. There really isn’t any big magic going on in the edit (as in artistic transitions, fades or split-screens) but the rhythm keeps the boat afloat. Gordon-Levitt (as Tobias Ellis) and Omid Memar (as Vedat, one of the terrorists) do the best they really can with limited space and material, even so it’s not enough to elevate the story to higher places.

Space and material. That is what director Patrick Vollrath's vision of 7500 eventually comes down to. What material it uses and in what space it is used in. The characters are disappointingly shallow and created only for the sake of the premise without ever really expanding from that. Tobias Ellis is a pilot and has a girlfriend, cool. Vedat is young and scared and has a voiceless mom, alright. Tobias’ girlfriend is doing her job, okay. On top of that one of the terrorists, Kenan (Murathan Muslu), gives a reasoning for their actions which is so basic that it rivals Netflix teen dramas for the most ”basic bitchness”. The production itself doesn’t help either as the rest of the plane remains unused and the cockpit doesn’t offer the actors much to act with.

Smileys: Editing

Frowneys: Characterisation, production design

It doesn’t do a crash landing but I wouldn’t fly with them again.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a pilot uniform and with a headset
Amazon Studios


Has your fantasy ever been suggesting to a production company that they give you a bunch of money to go to Fiji and that in return you only need to shoot a film while you’re on vacation there? Well that is the only way I can think of director and co-writer Jeff Wadlow getting to do Fantasy Island after having such an abysmal track record with his previous work. And what might as well have happened is that someone looked through the archives to find an old IP to reboot, and then ”inspired” by it, wrote a script during one drunken night in a bar with a couple of their friends.

The film barely manages to create a first and last name for the characters as they are filled with nothing but air in their lungs. There are five new people that come to the island—Melanie (Lucy Hale), Gwen (Maggie Q), Patrick (Austin Stowell), Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) and J.D. (Ryan Hansen)—to have their fantasies fulfilled with guidance from resort manager Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) and even with a group of five the writers manage to find the most generic ones: revenge on a high school bully, wanting to be in military and experiencing a rave party with half-dressed guys and girls. Gwen’s arc has at least some effort but that gets smashed into pieces by others later on. Wadlow’s directing choices make no sense, neither linearly nor on a dream-like level, which it goes for in the end, there’s simply no order in anything that happens.

As far as its genre goes, it completely fails to be horror which it goes for the most. Everything is lame even for PG: there are dripping sounds, black goo coming from eyes and people ”vanishing” (they literally just walk off the frame, what?), at times it even tries to be soap opera-like as far as I understand. Every nine minutes-or-so there’s the most fake sentimental monologue from someone trying to explain their vague backstory and it just comes off amateur, both in the script and acting. The only small saving grace Fantasy Island has is that it’s filmed in Fiji which offers some beautiful wilderness. That makes it sometimes feel more like an uninspired Jumanji movie rather than messy action horror which it actually is.

Smileys: Locations

Frowneys: Characterisation, directing, dialogue, screenplay

Someone get Michael Peña and Maggie Q out of here. The rest of the cast you can leave on the island.


Lucy Hale with her mouth open
Sony Pictures

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