Movie Review: Artemis Fowl24th September 2020
When I was a kid, I did in fact read Artemis Fowl books. I think I read the first one a few times, and it was absolutely fine. I would never have thought in a million years that anyone would’ve adapted it into a feature-length film, let alone one helmed by director Kenneth Branagh. But, the world works in mysterious, sometimes tedious ways, and that’s the only explanation I have for Artemis Fowl, a fumbled opportunity to bring together a comfy new series for family entertainment. Frankly, this couldn’t have been worse had they tried, every aspect of this Disney adaptation is a horrific spiral into a bleak, boring world of elves, spirits and surfboarding.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly Artemis Fowl is so bad. A collective culmination of awful writing, poor direction and egregious leading performance churn together like a thick, horrible paste of misery. Nothing within the film feels at all interesting or unique. There’s not a single moment that feels worth watching, with the CGI a pathetic blend of predictable scenes and nothing at all of interest. A story of fairies, ogres and elves should never really be entirely useless, even if it does riff on more predictable, conventional storytelling elements. Pathetic action sequences littered throughout some forced, streamlined plot advancement.
Strange as it may be to see Judi Dench and Colin Farrell appear in supporting roles, their limited appearances make for the best parts of this film. Josh Gad’s narration is unforgivably poor, a gritty voice that becomes burdened by awful writing and ridiculously humourless one-liners thanks to Gad’s awful performance. He’s almost as bad as our leading man, Ferida Shaw, who fumbles his debut appearance as the titular kid with an understanding of all things elves. Some scenes lack emotion entirely, with a weird disconnect between performance and dialogue. It’s as if he’s waiting for the next prompt to be thrown at him from somewhere off screen, and it creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.
I don’t remember Artemis Fowl being this boring, and there’s no chance of me returning to books I’ve not read in about eight years. Adaptations are, for the most part, rather good on the whole. Harry Potter did it well, The Lord of the Rings even moreso. Time and time again, adaptations have proven successful, but I suppose their success is due to their avoidance of development hell. A very generic adaptation, dwarves and elves and goblins all presented as expressionless, grey, without any sort of interesting or inspired visual appeal.
Worst of all, it makes Artemis Fowl extremely bland. What I remember of the books was far more colourful, engaging and incredible than the drab portrayal and adaptation found here. Clearly meant as the start of a whole new series of films, Artemis Fowl gets nothing right in its aimless running time. I still wonder what Branagh wants to do with his career. For the past few years, he’s fumbled his way through various, financially successful Disney feature films. I can’t imagine he has anything better planned, and for the time being he’s going to torture Disney+ users with this unforgivable, bleak adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s series of childish adventure books.