One of the biggest staples of the two-star fantasy film is that book adaptations. If you are an author and you write a mildly successfully story with a little hint of magic then watch out; Hollywood is going to dive its talons right into that body, rip it to shreds and drain it of its life until every drop of blood is spent.
Of course, there are some seriously good fantasy adaptations from Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games but for every Catching Fire there’s a Beautiful Creatures. For every Harry Potter, there’s an Artemis Fowl.
Based on a series of books by Eoin Colfer and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this movie has been in development hell for absolute years. And, frankly, it should’ve stayed there. Instead, however, it has landed on Disney Plus, proving that if it isn’t based on one of their own goddamn movies – the House of Mouse still has a problem with live action movies.
Look, I’ve watched this movie but I still can’t quite figure out what is going on. Here is what I’ve mustered up. The film stars Colin Farrell, Josh Cad, Nonoso Anozie, and new-coming Ferdia Shaw, Artemis Fowl revolves around a very smart young boy whose father is kidnapped by an unseen assailant. It is soon revealed that Artemis’ father is a huge thief and has been stealing world-ending artefacts from the magical community for years. Fairies, dwarves, goblins, and trolls live underground and come out when an apocalyptic thing called the Aculous, threatening human kind.
The Magic & The Madness.
Usually for Middling Earth, these two headers are separate. But so much happens over 95 minutes that somehow the magic blurs into the madness and vice versa. Here is all I managed to decipher with my own two eyes; Josh Gad unhinging his jaw so he can tunnel through the Earth, hair that can come to life and unlock safes, a centaur-shaped Q, some machinery that isn’t incredible explained, and everything in between.
Similar to her role in Cats, Judi Dench takes on a pointed ear elf who growls with an Irish accent. She is magic, menacing, and superfluous? Like she really adds nothing to the story except the nagging question of “why are you even here?”
At least she doesn’t get a rhyming monologue where she stares down the lens of the camera and muse on the fact that a fairy is not a human.
Is this a two-star movie?
Possibly worse. It is hard to imagine that this movie is by Kenneth Branagh. That’s not to say that every movie he’s made is an absolute banger because he has had some whoppers. Still, he has enough knowledge and prowess to make a film less messy than this. It is clearly over-developed, overtly cut, and doesn’t say anything new in the fantasy genre.
It is just a failure. There are no characters here that you haven’t seen before. You are suddenly rushed through a series of “quirky characters” with hurried backstories. Like Dench, the Irish accents are all over the place. The story is so dull that the supposed swift 95 minutes actually feels like three hours.
Also, for a movie whose main draw is Colin Farrell, he also appears in a total of ten minutes. That means that is a good 85 minutes without his dulcet tones and dreamy looks. That’s bad. I thought we learned our lessons from that god-awful Fantastic Beasts movie. You gotta keep him in, baby.
Personally, I’ve never read the books but from earnest fans, I’ve heard nothing but negatives. A complete misguided attempt and bringing Colfer’s work to the big screen – changing the intrinsic nature of the character and muddling the two books. There seems to be no audience or fans here.
Artemis Fowl is available on Disney Plus!