Artemis Fowl: Disney+ Film Review

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl was originally supposed to open in cinemas but, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Disney made the surprising move of offloading its big-budget adaptation of Eoin Colfer‘s novels onto its streaming service Disney+ – but now that I’ve seen the movie, their decision makes total sense. The film is really not good.

Ferdia Shaw stars as Artemis Fowl II, a highly-intelligent 12-year-old boy whose father, Artemis Fowl I (Colin Farrell), mysteriously disappears. He has been kidnapped by a pixie who demands the return of the Aculos, the most powerful treasure in the fairy world, which serves a portal between the human world and the Lower Elements, where the elves, fairies, goblins, dwarves and the like live. Artemis goes on a mission to find the device, with the help of Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), an elven police officer, and Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), a large dwarf.

Honestly, that summary took me a long time to write because I struggled to follow the plot, even though it’s fairly threadbare. I never read Colfer’s books so I came into it completely cold. There is a lot of exposition in the beginning to set up the relationship between the human and fairy worlds and Artemis Snr’s involvement, but once the worlds collide, it loses the plot (literally) and becomes an incoherent mess. Decisions didn’t make sense or weren’t well explained, there were plot holes galore, the characters were paper-thin, and it felt like a whole lot of nothing – the main characters didn’t seem to go anywhere or do very much, vital missing treasures were found too easily, and it seemed to end as it began. I was a bit like, ‘Oh, that’s it?’

From the ending of Kenneth Branagh‘s film, it becomes all too clear that this was designed as the starting point for a franchise, but considering its shaky foundation, I don’t hold much hope for any sequels any time soon. For example, Artemis is described as a “criminal mastermind” but this is not apparent within the movie and is only mentioned at the end, in the set-up for a sequel. This felt like chapter one rather than a full-rounded standalone film, which is a shame because it seems like we’d get more Farrell – who is criminally underused here – in the next one!

Shaw looks cute in his sharp suit and sunglasses and I’m sure kids will find him likeable enough but he had no personality or charisma, which isn’t what you want from the lead of a new young adult franchise. Farrell is barely in it, and Judi Dench, as Holly’s boss, is a gruff elf in a fabulous green costume who gets to say clangers like “Top o’ the morning” in an Irish accent. Gad (giving Hagrid vibes) is in full panto mood but I’m sure children won’t mind that. The only person who comes off well is McDonnell, who is lovely. I liked her very much.

So much has gone wrong with Artemis Fowl. Considering all the action that takes place, it is bland and dull, and you aren’t invested in anybody because you don’t really know who they are because they are so thinly written. There are some gorgeous landscapes and some of the action sequences look OK, but some of the special effects elsewhere were sketchy, which is crazy considering the film’s $125 million budget. If you asked me to explain why one person does something in the film, I wouldn’t be able to give you the answer. I was totally baffled by it, so I don’t know how children will fare. What a bland and confusing mess.

Streaming on Disney+ now 

Rating: 2/5


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