Originally intended to be released last August and then delayed for a May release, Disney finally cut bait with Artemis Fowl and dumped it onto their streaming service. Based on a series of children’s books by author Eoin Colfer, the film had the potential to spawn a franchise for Disney, but given that it currently holds the terrible Rotten Tomatoes score of 10%, a sequel will probably never happen.
While I have never read the books myself, I remember them being a big deal with kids back in my elementary school. When I heard they were making a movie out of the series, my interest was piqued. When Kenneth Branagh was announced as director, I was excited to see what he could do with the source material and was thrilled at the potential for a new Harry Potter-esque fantasy series. The trailers for the movie looked intriguing and set up the potential for an epic franchise, yet Disney completely botched their opportunity with this film.
Artemis Fowl follows twelve-year-old Artemis, a child genius (who apparently has many gifts, although we never really learn what they are), as he tries to rescue his father from a mysterious villain. While trying to find his missing father, Artemis gets involved in a battle between a race of fairies who he believes has information on his father’s disappearance.
A messy plot
Let me be clear; this movie is TERRIBLE, and I usually can find something redeeming in just about any movie —not here, however. There are very few, if any, redeeming qualities to this film. Beginning with the plot, there is very little happening throughout the movie. A majority of the film takes place within Artemis’ house, with not much happening plot wise. With the character development and world building rushed in the very beginning of the film, the entire remainder of the 95 minute runtime focuses on Artemis trying to retrieve an object called the Aculos by kidnapping a fairy and keeping her hostage. What felt as if it should have taken about the first third of the movie is drawn out for the whole film, with everything wrapping up in a very rushed fashion in the end.
The movie also does one of the worst things a movie can do when banking on creating a franchise, which is that it makes the film feel like a commercial for a potential franchise without first making sure the film is at least good. There are many things throughout the movie that felt like it was a commercial, but one of the main ones was how the film ends. The entire movie builds up toward the end, only to have nothing resolved and end with the characters just now ready to begin their journey. Since it seems unlikely that a franchise will spawn from this film (at least I, along with the rest of the world, hope not), it’s frustrating that they crafted the entire film as a set-up for future sequels.
The plot also suffers from not sticking to its own mythology. While the movie had certain rules in place, many times the movie backpedaled on them to fulfill certain plot points. For example, there’s a device that allows users to freeze time around them that is introduced in the beginning of the film and reintroduced later into the third act, but there were changes in how the device was used. There could be some explanation for these changes, but they’re never addressed, and it comes off as sloppy writing. This happens multiple times throughout the movie, and it quickly becomes annoying how much the film doesn’t stick to its own rules.
Boring and bland characters
Having great characters that the audience could get behind might potentially make up for a lackluster plot, yet the movie fails at that as well. Even with respectable performers like Judi Dench and Colin Farrell, the cast brings nothing to the film. Ferdia Shaw stars as Artemis, and this is his first role — which definitely shows. His performance was stiff and made his character lifeless. The supporting cast was humdrum as well, bringing hollow performances that do nothing to add to the film. It could potentially be a result of how poorly the characters were written in the script, but none of the actors stood out or brought anything to their characters to improve them.
The bare minimum
Ultimately, it felt as if the filmmakers were not trying to make an impressive film at all, but rather just a film that parents could play to distract their kids for a while. Kenneth Branagh is a very respectable director and has proven himself with some of his previous movies like Thor and Murder on the Orient Express, but here it feels like he was simply working for a paycheck. Performers like Ferrell and Dench have also proven themselves to bring quality performances, but here they too fell flat and seemed as if they were simply in it for the money.
Some might brush these critiques off and use the excuse that it’s a children’s movie for its lack of quality, but saying it’s a children’s film doesn’t justify how terrible the movie turned out. Many kids’ movies have been able to entertain both kids and adults. Films like Harry Potter and The Goonies have been able to bridge the gap between children and grownups to make a satisfying movie for both, so it’s disappointing to see a movie like Artemis Fowl where it feels as if little (if any) effort was placed into it by the filmmakers. What could have been a possible new Harry Potter or Percy Jackson franchise with a massive toy-box of a world to play in turned into a cheap, uninteresting mess of a movie with very little care put into it. Seeing the potential that was here for a new franchise with a deep mythology be completely wasted is disappointing, and it’s frustrating that a proper adaptation of the books wasn’t met.
Featured Image: IMDb
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
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