Based on the novel of the same name by Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl is an action fantasy movie, from director Kenneth Branagh. The film stars Ferdia Shaw, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, and Colin Farrell, and presents the story of a boy genius, in search of his missing father.
Set in a world where fairies, goblins, and trolls are real, Artemis Fowl mixes folklore with science-fiction, to tell a tale in which… erm…
…Judi Dench dicks about for 90 minutes, while wearing pixie ears…
and some other stuff happens.
Artemis Fowl is currently available to stream on Disney+ and it is fair to say that I did not enjoy what I watched. I did not enjoy it one bit.
Now before I talk/rant about Artemis Fowl, I need to do a little bit of housekeeping. This little bit of housekeeping should help explain the background of the movie, to put everything into context.
Artemis Fowl went into production over at 20th Century Fox back in 2018. Budgeted at $125 million, the film was due to hit cinema screens during summer 2020 as one of 20th Century Fox’s big releases.
However, before the film made it to cinema screens, two major developments took place:
- 1.) Disney bought 20th Century Fox, thus acquiring Artemis Fowl in the process
- 2.) COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill and put all cinema releases on hold
As a result of theses two situations, Disney pulled Artemis Fowl from its theatrical release and instead opted to move it to Disney+. Artemis Fowl arrived in June – as many countries around the world were in a pandemic lockdown – and it became the first ‘major’ movie to launch directly on the streaming service, at a time when subscribers were desperate for distraction.
I’m highlighting all of this because placing Artemis Fowl on Disney+ was arguably the best move by the Mouse House. Not because this is a superb piece of film making, which has helped bring in new subscribers, but rather because Artemis Fowl is a huge misfire that Disney has been able to successfully dump, at a time when most people will accept any old shite.
And I say this from personal experience. I will pretty much watch anything right now.
Honestly, I have reached a point where I will watch whatever is thrown at me, so long as it isn’t a television interview conducted over Skype, a YouTube cookery video where the host makes a four-course meal out of spaghetti hoops, or yet another bloody TikTok video which simply ISN’T FUNNY!
Can we stop with TikTok, PLEASE?!
Now all that said, even factoring in my need for new content, boy, did I struggle with Artemis Fowl. Messy, confusing, and paper-thin, this is simply not a good film and I cannot, and will not recommend it.
From an aesthetic point of view, it looks decent enough. There are a few minor CGI issues, but I must say that Artemis Fowl does look the business. But the script, the acting, the direction et al are just poor.
Let’s start with the cast, which was led by young actor, Ferdia Shaw, who was given the unenviable task of carrying the majority of the movie on his shoulders – a job he was simply unable to handle. At no point during the film was a.) his character believable, b.) particularly interesting, or c.) even the slightest bit likeable.
After spending 90 minutes in his company, I couldn’t care less if I see his character ever again. Actually scratch that, I don’t want to see him again.
Remember that awful Thunderbirds movie from 2004? The one which was largely led by annoying kids and was cringe-worthy to watch? Well, this feels like we are treading similar territory. There is simply no acting going on here.
I didn’t buy anything Shaw was selling and it was clear he was out of his depth. Yet, I don’t believe it was entirely his fault – as no one came out of this film with their acting credentials intact. And this includes some top talent!
Josh Gad appeared in this movie as a gravely-voiced (giant) dwarf. The best way to describe his character is ‘a Hagrid knock-off with an incredibly irritating, gravely voice’. I couldn’t stand him.
Gad was joined by Judi Dench as a fairy with an equally gravely voice. No, tell a lie, hers was much, much worse. I couldn’t stand her either.
Every time Gad and Dench uttered a word on screen (which was pretty much every other scene) I couldn’t help but wonder what possessed them to speak like this? Why were their voices so gravely?
Jeez, no one speaks like that! A few minutes sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend would have sorted out the gravel, and would have made for two less annoying characters in the process.
BUT (and this is a big but) at least these two characters felt fully developed. The rest of the cast only seemed to exist to deliver endless exposition, to explain the lore/mythology which I can only assume is integral to the books, but felt too distracting in the movie.
What was with all the talking?
Halfway through the film I did wonder if the writers had chopped up pages of exposition, and just handed them around the cast in the hope that collectively everyone would get through it all. Even Colin Farrell (who is barely in the movie) got lumbered with endless waffle, presumably because there was plenty available and it gave the rest of the cast a break for five minutes!
Waffle aside, Farrell’s acting was fine, by the way, but I couldn’t help but feel he was only in the film for the pay cheque. Not that I blame him – I suspect even he started to question what he was doing in this rubbish.
No doubt he also saw the dailies (aka the unedited footage) and wondered why the picture seemed to be pinching ideas from Harry Potter, and Men in Black?!
With Kenneth Branagh calling the shots, and a $125 million budget, this should have been a much better movie – but it’s just bobbins. And I lay the majority of this misfire at the door of Branagh; although I genuinely can’t believe how he could have fumbled this project so badly.
As someone who has never read any of the Artemis Fowl books, I can honestly say this film is not a good advertisement for the series as a whole. After watching this picture, I now have no desire to read any of the books, and I certainly don’t want to watch any more of these films (not that I expect to see any more from this movie series).
What I want is for someone to fire Judi Dench’s agent, to stop her from appearing in subpar movies. Between this and Cats, Dench is on the brink of having her Damehood revoked if she doesn’t get better representation.
Should I tell her, or do you want to?
Anyway, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Artemis Fowl is one to miss. Disney picked up a duff movie from Fox and nothing can change that.
If you are given the choice of watching Artemis Fowl, or viewing your sister’s, friend’s, mother’s latest TikTok video, my advice is to simply watch neither. Do some ironing, clean out the lavy, or even hold a conversation with another human being – you will find all of these things far more satisfying.
Thanks for taking the time to read this movie review for Artemis Fowl on It’s A Stampede!. For more movie-related content, check out the recommended reads below.
- Forgotten fantasy films from the 1990s
- Revisiting BMX Bandits
- Remember the ‘Crocodile’ Dundee movie trailer… that wasn’t a movie trailer?