I am usually one for reading the book first, but in the case of Artemis Fowl, I was interested to see whether or not the new Disney film would be able to capture the imagination of someone new to the story and completely unfamiliar with Eoin Colfer’s novel.
The premise sounds interesting enough. Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl Junior is a genius kid who lives in a giant mansion with his somewhat absent father, and a butler, whose last name is Butler, but hates to be called ‘butler’. When his dad goes missing, young Artemis soon finds out that he comes from a long line of criminal masterminds, who have been keeping records on the a secret race of powerful of underground fairies (and also goblins, dwarfs, and trolls that eat people) – a magical bunch who may be behind his father’s disappearance.
Opening with the ever so comforting and familiar Disney castle, and jumping straight into conflict, building tension from the get-go, the film seems to be off to a good start. Narrated by Disney favourite, Josh Gad (who looks like a live action version of Mole from Atlantis: The Lost Empire), and padded with a couple good actors like Colin Farrell and Judi Dench, this doesn’t seem too bad for a children’s film.
But not an hour after I’ve finished, I am struggling to remember what the movie was about. Then again, I’m not sure what I expected from Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the perplexing Thor film, that Chris Hemsworth’s abs could hardly save. I would feel sorry for the young actors who starred in this film, but everyone has to start somewhere, I suppose, and Disney is a solid steppingstone – just ask Miley Cyrus or Zac Efron.
Artemis Fowl is okay, if you haven’t yet read the book from which it is apparently a far cry (I wouldn’t personally know, but after this experience I will say I am not at all inclined to find out). It reminded me of some kind of cross between Spy Kids and Onward, but saying so feels like a great insult to the latter which is absolutely magnificent (actually, if you really want to watch a kids’ movie I would recommend you put on Onward instead). The ending of Artemis Fowl is supremely subpar, and clearly a set up for sequels, although I can’t really imagine willingly sitting through another one of these.
There really isn’t much to be said for Artemis Fowl. The effects are decent, but so are all action sequences nowadays, even in low-budget shorts. It is a feel-good movie that you could just about bear watching if you’re babysitting and getting paid for your time... One of those ‘good’ without actually being good movies that is an enjoyable enough experience if you aren’t planning on paying much attention. In a word, forgettable.
Check out the trailer for Artemis Fowl (2020) here: