Disney’s Artemis Fowl is an incredibly muddled film, whose plot and motivations often operate with little, to no, explanation.
The film is adapted from the beloved novel series written by Eoin Colfer, that’s praised for its inventiveness and world-building. However, this final product is incoherently maddening, particularly where characterization is blatantly ignored.
Considering the success of the series, a film adaptation was a long time coming. With Kenneth Branagh directing, acclaimed playwright Conor McPherson and Paddington writer Hamish McColl co-writing, it would be fair to expect a film handled with more care. By film’s end, it’s priorities are clear. Artemis Fowl was produced with the intention of making more sequels, not to tell a self-contained story. The movie even starts in media res, often a story telling choice, but in this instance it’s because the movie is always looking ahead.
Artemis Fowl Synopsis
“Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius and descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds. He soon finds himself in an epic battle against a race of powerful underground fairies who may be behind his father’s disappearance.”
It Starts With The Characters
Artemis Fowl never felt focused on the here, now, and the why’s, behind its characters’ intentions. That’s why none of the performances really work. Artemis (Ferdia Shaw) receives the most intention, but really isn’t that likable because the audience never gets a moment to relate to him.
Judi Dench (Commander Root) and Josh Gad (Mulch Diggums) distract and confound as their guttural growl-speak is ridiculous. Gad brings the only ounce of charm Artemis Fowl possesses. Laura McDonnell (Holly Short) shows she has a promising future, but the movie’s villain may be the biggest crime. A cloak wearing, nefarious manipulator who is always hidden among the shadows, Opal Koboi (Hong Chau) is utterly useless.
The action sequences are fine, but not great. There are many moments where the lapses in CG are noticeable. Haven City, the home of the fairy civilization, looks rich and expansive but we barely spend any time there. The writers took narrative liberties in constructing this adaptation, perhaps they could have paid more attention to why audiences are tuning in to begin with. Primarily, to see the fantastical world of make-believe that Eoin Colfer created come to life .
It is clear now why Artemis Fowl was cast off to Disney +. The film is a one and done. Just another wannabe franchise thinking way too far ahead, without giving proper care to the present. I don’t expect we will be hearing from this series again.
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