Artemis Fowl review: A true missed opportunity

Artemis Fowl review: A true missed opportunity

Andrew Lu | 11 Jun 2020

Here's our review of Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl will premier on Disney+Hotstar on June 12

The film stars Ferdia Shaw, Colin Farrell and Judi Dench

The fact that Artemis Fowl is directed by a very talented Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Cinderella) is probably one of the few shining spots of this film. To be fair, older audiences may not be the target audience but even with the umbrella of being a children’s movie, Artemis Fowl is just not a very good or coherent. Based on a series of novels by writer Eoin Colfer, the film is loosely based on the first book of the series. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the books but have read the graphic novel so my understanding of the source material may not be as deep as fans of the book. But, even with that out of the way, the film is still a mess of ideas that race and gender swaps two characters for no apparent reason other than to collect virtue brownie points and has one giant change that sees the movie break away from the source material. 

Artemis Fowl Review: Oh, what could have been

The film opens with Artemis Fowl Senior (Colin Farrel) being captured by faeries because of an object that he possesses that is a mythical artefact in the world of goblins, faeries and trolls. Artemis Junior (Ferdia Shaw) is our titular character and is seen outperforming his peers at school but feels unfulfilled as his father is often not around because of his work. It is then revealed that Fowl Sr is actually the world’s most famous thief and is now presumed missing. Artemis is then tasked with finding the artefact and rescuing his dad with the help of a faerie police officer called Holly Short. Additional side characters like Don the Butler and the Faerie Police Commander Root do not resemble their literary counterparts at all and really disrupt the flow as both Nonso Anozie and Judi Dench are terribly miscast in these roles. They bring nothing new to the table and make an already bad film much worse. 

One of the few saving graces of the film is the cinematography and sense of direction by the very talented Kenneth Branagh. The film is well-paced and moves along briskly, clocking in at about an hour and a half. The special effects deserve a mention, as well as the faerie kingdom and other fantastical creatures such as trolls and goblins, look great on screen. Shame about the screenplay though. The need to kill off Artemis’ mother in the film really does the film a disservice as in the books and graphic novel, one of the few people that Artemis cares about is his mother and that forms the emotional core of the books. In the film, however, his mother is the one who has passed and in her place is his father. The relationship between father and son does work but it is still a bad idea, knowing that the source material is rather different. 

It’s been almost 20 years since the first Artemis Fowl novel was published and this film does not do justice to the fantastical world that Eoin Colfer has crafted. It may appeal to much younger audiences but the performance of Ferdia Shaw really pulls the film down. He is a bit wooden and does not give off the charismatic cool that Artemis Fowl is famous for. And maybe I’m being a little too harsh on Ferdia Shaw, but if the kids from Stranger Things and It Chapter One can deliver such great performances, I find it hard to excuse wooden and listless acting. Even major players like Colin Farrell and Judi Dench look like they’re phoning it in, with Dench’s tough and gruff act being the cringiest of the lot.

Artemis Fowl Verdict

If you’ve got nothing to do and nothing else to watch, then you should check out Artemis Fowl, just so you know how not to adapt a beloved children’s novel into a film. But, if you’ve got even a modicum of taste, then Artemis Fowl is a film that you should definitely skip. 

Andrew Lu

A geek and nerd at heart, I love comic books, horror movies and professional fighting. Yes, I know how insane that sounds.

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