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Star of 'Escape from Virtual Island' Paul Rudd rates genre's most famous tropical getaways

By Josh Weiss
Paul Rudd Skull Island

Many of us go through the year wishing for a nice long vacation on a tropical island somewhere, but palm trees and a warm climate aren't always the sure indication of a good time. Just ask Carl Denham or Alan Grant, and they'll probably tell you they never want to set foot on an isolated landmass covered in jungles and/or beaches ever again.

What we're trying to say is that the world of genre is packed with famous islands known for their danger, thrills, and intrigue. Audible is looking to add to that famous canon with Escape from Virtual Island, an original comedy series about a futuristic resort that goes (what else?) absolutely haywire.

Run by Derek Ambrose (voiced by Paul Rudd), Pengalaman Island is a place where the wealthy can live out their wildest dreams in a top-of-the-line simulation. When a high-profile guest turns up missing, however, Derek learns that the virtual getaway's central computer has gone rogue and won't allow anyone to escape into the real world. With some help from his assistant (Jack McBrayer), lead computer programmer (Amber Ruffin), and head of security (Paula Pell), Ambrose bounces from one simulation to the next, hoping to save the situation.

With Escape from Virtual Island now on sale, we were curious how Pengalaman stacks up against other islands from sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. To get some answers, SYFY WIRE roused Mr. Rudd from his VR snooze on the digital beach and asked him to break down the amenities of Pengalaman in relation to other island-related imbroglios.

Kong Skull Island

Skull Island

Ah yes, the home of America's most famous cinematic monster, King Kong. A place forgotten by time, Skull Island is a vicious retreat full of dinosaurs, man-eating bugs, and the big gorilla himself. The lethal location first appeared in RKO's iconic 1933 movie, and would be revisited several times throughout the decades — most notably in 1976, 2005, and 2017.

How does Pengalaman compare? "Better beaches," Rudd says.

Jurassic Park

Isla Nublar

John Hammond's dream of creating an amusement park full of cloned dinosaurs off the coast of Costa Rica fell apart in the most spectacular way possible. The failure was so spectacular, in fact, that Steven Spielberg decided to make a movie about it. But hey, the tropical is pretty setting great if you enjoy watching a gallimimus stampede in a lush valley. Or perhaps you prefer getting mauled by velociraptors under the relaxing and sun-streaked jungle canopy.

How does Pengalaman compare? "You don't need to vertically drop from a helicopter to land there, and Pengalaman Island doesn't have Jeff Goldblum's tanned chest on display — unless someone wanted it in their virtual experience," Rudd says. "I do think that many people would, by the way."


The island from Lost

A decade later, and we've still got questions about the maddeningly mysterious and ever-changing island created by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof. For six seasons and 121 episodes, the surviving passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 uncovered riddle-after-riddle, making our brains hurt in the process.

How does Pengalaman compare? "No killer smoke (literal) and I don't recall there ever being 'a Hatch' mentioned on Pengalaman Island," Rudd says. "Interesting side note: Richard Hatch won the first season of Survivor, which took place on Borneo, an island! Fun fact: in 2006, Hatch was convicted of attempting to evade paying taxes and was sentenced to 51 months in prison."

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island (TV version)

Run by the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalbán) and his assistant Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), Fantasy Island was a place where guests could live out their heart's desire for an ironic price. The long-running ABC series spawned a short-lived revival in the late 1980s and, more recently, a horror-inspired film adapation from Sony.

How does Pengalaman compare? "No white suits," Rudd says. "Boo!"

Marlon Brando The Island of Doctor Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau

H.G. Wells was pretty ahead of his time when he wrote this late 19th century sci-fi novel about a mad scientist who creates grotesque human-animal hybrids from the comfort of a private island. Like King Kong, the book has enjoyed several big screen adaptations over the years with the titular doctor being played by such acting heavyweights as Charles Laughton (1933), Burt Lancaster (1977), and Marlon Brando (1996). The horror!

How does Pengalaman compare? "Less mutant animals, no Marlon Brando, and sadly, no Nelson de la Rosa. I'm comparing to the ['96] remake," Rudd says.