I have never seen a book-to-film adaptation so flimsy, chaotic, and silly in its execution such as Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Artemis Fowl’. Keep in mind! This is coming from someone who has never read the books by Eoin Colfer, let alone even aware of its mythology. All I knew about it was that it was centered on a child thief named Artemis Fowl and the secrets he has to unlock. I am sure that it was one of the books I have wanted to read in my childhood, but never had a chance to. A feature film was inevitable and was in development since 2001, but never saw the light of day until its first teaser hit in 2018. Though, it had been pushed back from August 2019 to August of this year, only to be released just yesterday on Disney+ due to the Coronavirus.
Last night, I decided to watch ‘Artemis Fowl’ as I am never willing to turn down a free movie that originally had a theatrical release, despite the negative reception. After watching it however, I could not agree more. I am not cynical when I say that ‘Artemis Fowl’ has a fine start; we get to see the relationship with Artemis (Ferdia Shaw in his film debut) and his father, Artemis Fowl Sr. (Colin Farrell) as they talk about fairies and mythical creatures (you know, typical father-son stuff) until the next day when Artemis learns that his father was kidnapped. The appearance of Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie) as he explains to Artemis all the secrets his father left behind keeps things interesting. Yet everything becomes a muddled mess when we see the world of technologically-advanced fairies led by Commander Root (Judi Dench either sounding possessed or like she smoked way too many cigarettes). There, we meet officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) who is dedicated to helping everyone, even going so far as to save a human wedding from being destroyed by a giant troll.
From then on, everything gets hard to follow as there is too much going on and every scene is littered with some form of action, nothing the least bit memorable other than a few creepy CG moments. The narration by giant dwarf Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) is grating with his voice becoming nothing but a cheap imitation of the Bouvier sisters from ‘The Simpsons’ as they smoke. Not to mention, with the runtime being 97 minutes, everything feels crammed in.
If ‘Artemis Fowl’ is the start of a potential book-to-film adaptation franchise, then this is the poorest impression to start with. If the likes of the ‘Eragon’ and ‘Percy Jackson’ adaptations are enough to lose fans, then I have a feeling that ‘Artemis Fowl’ will anger fans of the books, only much harder. I guarantee it.