We’re on our way back to seeing the return of big budget movies and to start us off Disney and Kenneth Branagh give us Artemis Fowl, a movie that probably isn’t the best start for this grand return to prime.
I don’t know anything about this series or the books it’s based on, but I do know that this movie went through development hell. Artemis Fowl was originally supposed to come out late in 2018. Of course that never happened as it was pushed back another year and then the virus hit and I guess Disney gave up on this movie because now it’s available on Disney+. A good call on their part because I reckon this would have bombed if it went to the cinemas because Artemis Fowl is kind of bad.
Just like Eragon or Mortal Engines and many other failed Young Adult franchises that came before it, Artemis Fowl is trying very hard to start it’s own franchise while not realising that the first movie has to really stick the landing before you can even consider making follow-up films. Artemis Fowl also has the added benefit that it’s under the Disney banner so expect an uninspired, soulless corporate film that feels more concerned with hitting certain goals than telling a compelling story.
I was pretty disinterested for the majority of the movie and struggled to understand what the hell was going on because the story is so convoluted. Especially with Artemis’ strange plan to free his father from the mysterious lord of darkness or whatever. To go off topic I have just been getting into Prison Break and like Artemis, the main character, Michael Scofield is a genius. Scofield is an engaging character to watch because of the ingenious plans he hatches each week. Half of the fun in each episode is the hints and clues that are dropped so we’re somewhat aware of what our genius main character is up to and the final reveal of his plan coming together is just so satisfying. This aspect is completely absent from Artemis Fowl. I knew what he was after, but how he was going to accomplish that was all out open season. I’m not sure if I would call him clever because the preparation is all off-screen and when he’s actually executing the plan it’s so muddled and confusing that I’m unsure if it makes any sense. But you know what does make Artemis Fowl a genius? It’s being told constantly that he’s a really smart kid by Josh Gad’s narration and also by the other characters in the movie. Actually I’m kind of surprised I lost track of this movie with the huge amount of exposition that’s featured.
That’s not all. This movie is terrible at world building. We’re told Artemis’ dad is a famous crook, but he also knows underground leprechauns and how he came across all this is anyone’s guess. We also meet a young leprechaun cop girl who has a dead father who apparently betrayed the leprechaun society. We never learn what he did or how he is relevant to the story. Why the magic creatures live underground is never explained, the answers to why Josh Gad is a giant dwarf must have been left on the cutting room floor, same with the answer as to why we should fear a villain who hides in darkness, has no army and appears to have no connection to the rest of this stupid underground world.
For Pete’s sake, give us one bloody straight answer!
Oh my god, I don’t think I have seen another movie so desperate to hide important information from the audience. I probably wouldn’t be so annoyed if I had read the books, but in this reality I haven’t and forcing me to read a Wikipedia article or read a book just so I can understand the basics of your movie is a huge failure in my eyes!
On the plus side this movie is nice to look at and the action is a good watch. Some of the CG and the backgrounds of the underground kingdom look great. The kids they got to play the main characters do look like they’re really trying so good on them, despite the fact that the writing is terrible which also affects their performances. I’m not sure about Colin Farrell, as he looked very disinterested and Josh Gad’s attempts at humour, cringe alert! Despite being a kids movie it’s quite serious so all their Marvel type quips just fell flat. I did enjoy Judi Dench’s Batman impression, that got a smile out of me.
I really can’t recommend Artemis Fowl to anyone, though young kids might get a kick out of it for the appeal of watching this apparent super smart kid. Then again it’s on Disney+ so you’re not paying to see this movie. If you really want to suffer though this one I’ll leave it up to you. That being said, Artemis Fowl earns a 3/10. It’s a well below average movie, but there was never anything that stood out to me as really terrible besides the writing, so it’s safe from my Epic Fail Seal. If this movie ever gets a sequel then hopefully the Disney overlords will view this review as gospel and make that movie better than this. I have been The Blog Complainer and I’m staying away from Leprechauns for awhile.