This week, I watched Disney’s latest addition to their streaming platform, Artemis Fowl, and I don’t really know what I just watched. I’m sure if I had read the books by Eoin Colfer, I may have had a better grasp on what was happening. But, even then, the movie would’ve still—and pardon my language—sucked.
Now, I had already heard a lot of negative criticism of this film beforehand, so my expectations weren’t necessarily high. However, I was a little disappointed in hearing how bad it was since I was a fan of some of the director’s (Kenneth Branagh) earlier works as a director and an actor. So I was curious to see just how bad it was. And boy, was I in for a perplexing ride!
And just to show how perplexing this film is, I actually had to Google the movie’s plot summary after I watched it just to tell you guys what the movie is about in this review. That’s how bad this movie was! This is what IMDb says: “Artemis Fowl, a young criminal prodigy, hunts down a secret society of fairies to find his missing father.” That’s it. That’s the movie, I guess.
The big reason why this film is such a confusing mess is that the pacing is awful. The film gives you no time to process anything. Things just… happen. You’re not allowed to soak in the world or process any of the events or even learn to care about any of the characters. It’s just scene after scene after scene. “No time to dwell here! We gotta move on!” I had a hard time figuring out who the actual bad guys in the film were. Through many points in the film, I was asking myself (and on some occasions, doing so out loud), “What? What? What?!”
About halfway through the film, I realized that, since the movie didn’t seem to care about whether I cared about what was going on, I’d stopped caring about what was going on. I’m sure this caused me to miss quite a few details in the storyline. But I can’t say that’s my fault.
And, of course, the script is pretty terrible. Bad, unrealistic dialogue. Half-hearted attempts at humor. I actually laughed once, so I will give it that. But that was just once! All other attempts didn’t even bring a smile to my face. And there were no meaningful monologues or anything that could bring sincerity to this film.
The acting is pretty bad all around, and most of the characters are underdeveloped as well. Ferdia Shaw as the title character is not great, but I feel like that’s more the director’s fault than his. Most child acting is rough. He’s an uninteresting character “brought to life” by an uninteresting performance. He’s also unlikable from the start. The first time he’s introduced, he’s rude to his elders and comes off as a know-it-all, young Sherlock Holmes/Encyclopedia Brown-type character. I don’t relate well to super-intelligent child characters, especially if they’re jerks to everybody.
Lara McDonnell’s role as the female fairy friend was one of the better ones. I’m sure she’s a good actor, and she seemed to enjoy her time on the screen. Sadly, her character was not fleshed-out like most of the other characters, and I actually feel bad she had to be a part of this.
Josh Gad is in this, too. He plays a “dwarf” character. And, I swear, every time I see him in a movie, it’s like he’s trying to be a bad version of Jack Black. It comes off very strongly in this film. His character is really annoying and not funny, despite the fact he’s supposed to be the comic relief.
Judi Dench is also in this film as a fairy general, but I could not take her seriously with the voice she was putting on. I was getting slight “Tom Hardy as Capone” vibes from her. She did not come off as intimidating at all.
Colin Farrell plays Artemis’s dad, but he’s barely in the movie because his character spends most of his time chained up in a dungeon.
The technical aspects of the film are nothing impressive. There were one or two really weird editing choices, and the CGI was pretty bad. Watching it, it’s hard to believe this film was released in the year 2020. A lot of it looks like it was made in the 2000s. The CGI locations did not feel like real places, so that made it hard to find anything in the story believable. All of the creatures were poorly designed. The centaurs were laughable to watch; the movement in the “rear” was in no way realistic. The trolls looked straight out of an early Harry Potter film. Disney needs to take notes from its earlier fantasy movies like The Chronicles of Narnia films when it comes to creature design and quality CGI.
So, yeah. This was a bad movie. Soon it will seem like a bad dream in my memory. I mean, it already feels like one.
Episode 011 | Say Goodnight Kevin Podcast
Tyler Smith, film critic, podcast host, and director of the film “Reel Redemption”, joins Kevin for an exciting conversation about the history of Christian film and the state it is in today.