Artemis Fowl (2020)

Artemis Fowl (2020) Cover

Artemis Fowl is an adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s wonderful 2001 YA novel that I enjoyed reading and completed “Book Journal” projects for in high school English class. Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Murder on the Orient Express) creates a film that is fast-paced, full of energetic action, but sad to say lacks characters that are not given enough time to build any emotional depth or chemistry with one another. Additionally, the plot is incredibly messy and you never feel the gravity of all the action that is unfolding. I cannot imagine anyone being in love with this film, including fans who are sure to be upset with the vast amount of plot changes. Luckily, you can opt to switch to a different movie with Disney+ if the one you begin is not engaging.

12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw) is determined to save his father (Colin Farrell) who has mysteriously disappeared. The lives of Artemis, his Bodyguard Dom (Nonso Anozie), Holly the elf (Lara McDonnell), Mulch Diggums the dwarf (Josh Gad) and the Commander of the fairy police, Julius Root (Judi Dench) all collide in this fantasy adventure, as the hunt for the rare and powerful Oculus is wanted by boy genius and the fairies. CGI Heavy battle scenes and convoluted Sci-Fi talk are littered throughout the picture.

Ferdia Shaw, whose credits include being the grandson of Robert Shaw (who played Quint in Jaws), makes his feature debut and his performance is incredibly underwhelming. I feel terrible to say that; wishing the best for this young actor and his future endeavors. The screenplay extremely limits him on the range of emotion he can display and lacks character-building moments or conversations he could have had with other cast. Lara McDonnel, another young actress who is beginning to build her resume, never feels like she truly bonds or is “won over'' by Artemis, whose relationship with McDonnel’s character (Holly) should gradually shift from hostile to friend. Josh Gad’s character is being interrogated specifically to tell the audience through voice-over everything that is happening.  Eventually this begins to feel a bit condescending as we are spoon fed most of the story. The biggest eye roll is when he explains to the audience, “this is the part where I come in” as we see him on screen- instead of letting us figure it out on our own. Judy Dench is the strongest performer in the film, playing a leader of a fairy organization who is direct, sharp, and a little more interesting to see on screen. Butler Dom, played by Nonso Anozie, gets very few lines in the film and when you’re supposed to feel bad that he is lethally hurt there is no emotion because the story does not build any of these characters to feel like real people.

The biggest problem with Artemis and the reason why the characters feel so artificial is that the plot is incredibly rushed! The novel, which has so much more rich detail with what characters are thinking and feeling, is shoved into this 1 hour and 35 minute running time. If this is supposed to lay the groundwork for a big franchise why in the world would we go through it all so quick? The first Harry Potter film which had some of the same uphill battles of establishing a fantasy world was 2 hours and 39 minutes. While that film has a lot of magic and action there’s plenty of moments where the film stops to make you care about the characters and show how those characters all think and feel (Harry being mistreated by the Dursleys, Hagrid giving Harry a cake, Ron asking Harry intimdatingly if he really has “the scar”, Hermione feeling hurt after hearing Ron talk behind her back, etc.) Those moments are what made the story and the magic was simply a nice unique flair. However, Artemis Fowl is all action and forgettable scenes of witty unrealistic dialogue that the audience will be unable to connect with. It seemed liked screenwriters Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl highly feared that the audience would get bored so we rush through so many action scenes and over-the-top “you better do as I say” conversations. Lastly, we don’t get a scene where we truly feel as if Artmis cares about his father and if it doesn’t seem like he cares why should I?

Final Verdict:The best thing about Artemis Fowl is that it is free if you already have Disney+ and if you don’t this is certainly not a reason to begin your subscription.