For the first time since Hollywood shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have found a movie that has likely benefited from not being shown in theaters. That movie is “Artemis Fowl.”
Had Disney gone through with their plans to premiere “Artemis Fowl” in movie theaters, both the company and the movie might have become the laughing stock of the summer. Instead, this literary adaptation can fade into nothingness — as it deserves — on the Disney+ streaming platform.
“Artemis Fowl” is a wannabe Harry Potter that isn’t even worth using as a distraction for children. It is meaningless and unimaginative, despite desperately wishing it had both.
Ostensibly based on a series of popular children’s books, “Artemis Fowl” is about a child criminal genius mastermind who runs afoul of a world of fairies, trolls and other magical creatures in Ireland. The movie focuses on Artemis’ efforts to locate the magical Aculos so that he can use it to pay a ransom after his father is kidnapped by a bad guy. To do so, he teams up with his family’s manservant, a fairy law enforcement officer and a criminal dwarf.
If it feels like I’m just throwing vague concepts at you in a rush, welcome to the “Artemis Fowl” movie.
I said this film is “ostensibly” based on a book series because apparently the movie barely follows the book series. I never read the books when I was a kid, but I’ve done enough research online to learn that the movie deviates wildly from the books in a lot of really strange ways. I’m only going to review the film based on its quality as a film, just know that apparently book fans will be very disappointed with this adaptation.
As a film, “Artemis Fowl” is a silly mess that doesn’t seem to understand anything about itself. Characters and concepts are thrown at the audience one after another and then never really developed.
The audience is told at the start of the film that the Artemis Fowl character is a super genius, but he never actually does anything particularly smart throughout the rest of the film. He’s actually pretty bland.
It feels like the filmmakers were given a vague outline of the book story, the characters and the concepts and then filled in the blanks themselves, making sure to put a check mark next to each item they name-dropped.
For a movie focused on magical creatures and mystical worlds, it spends the vast majority of its runtime in the same boring house. The film rushes through character development as if it has somewhere more important to be, then still expects the audience to care about the characters it has barely developed.
“Artemis Fowl” is a rush job attempt to cram a new Harry Potter-esque franchise down movie goers’ throats. That the pandemic forced it to be released on a streaming service is a mercy killing.