Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl was one of the best YA books that I grew up with, the story of a 12 year old millionare, genius and a criminal mastermind. It reminds me of a time that was imaginative, fun and exciting. The movie, well it’s none of that.
Disney Studios is caught in between disneyfying the plot and sticking to the original source material. It’s okay to take liberties with the material, but it’s not okay to be in two boats at the same time. This is mostly a rant and than a thought out review because that also describes the movie. You would think they have had enough time to iron out the details considering that it has been in making for a good 20 years now. Yes, the first plan for a movie for Artemis Fowl was back in 2001, it has been passed to directors, script writers and entire production houses before ending up at Disney as Disney’s Artemis Fowl and there lies this movies biggest mistake.
The beauty of Artemis lies in the fact that he is not a hero. He is a self-made 12 year old millionare and genius who finds and kidnaps a fairy because he can. When you decide that Artemis Fowl is practically a superhero with a tragic past, you are spoiling in fun in the introduction. Artemis Fowl spends a long part of the movie trying to deconstruct his father’s journal. Everything he knows, he knows from the book, everything he does, is outlined there as well. This leaves us with no clues to him being a genius except may identifying a counterfeit antique in the opening act (that was so cringy). The movie makes all his actions in defense trying to save his dad but ends with Artemis announcing that he is a Criminal Mastermind, even though he has done nothing criminal in the whole movie to justify it. This is what happens when you try to serve two different audience at the same time.
I do still believe it could have been a fun movie watching experience (for the people who did not expect the book to alive) if someone had actually put time into writing dialogues rather than making an exposition dump. Here is the conversation between Artemis Fowl and Holly Short , an actual fairy at the time a Troll is about to attack.
What is that?
A creature that consumes humans in 2.97 seconds and fairies in less than one. Get Ready. This is going all the way.
Here is Commander Root giving instructions to their most advanced team of fairy fighters:
Capture only. We need the humans unharmed. We scare them, We do not kill them. I want them alive.
How advanced are these people if they haven’t heard the basic rules?
The movie has two people who talk like Batman for no reason whatsoever and one of them is the movie’s narrator. It’s a bewildering choice because he is not using the same voice in the movie, just as the narrator. As they themselves describe it:
Listen to the two of us grunting at each other like a pair of hippos with a throat infection.
Lara McDonnel and Josh Gad throw in good performances on the acting side, but there is only so much that you do. Ferdia Shaw’s portrayal of Artemis turned out unlikable and confused even though it seemed much of the plot was tuned to make him a likeable kid.
Artemis is not Batman, at best he is a Sherlock, an Iron Man or a Rick. His curse is the knowledge (paraphrasing Thanos) he has and yearns for. He is an antihero and it isn’t his sad backstory that’s driving him, it’s the choice of fame, wealth and knowledge. He can surely make these choices for mankind, save humanity and make a fuss about it, but that’s not the point and that will not be the beginning of his story.
Why was Artemis’ niece in this movie? Were they normalizing the gender of characters for maximum wokeness? 🤔