Artemis Fowl movie poster
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Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl movie poster

Artemis Fowl Movie Review

Ripped from another era when studios desperately attempted to replicate the magic of Harry Potter and then, eventually, realized it wasn’t going to happen, Artemis Fowl proves to be another “original” misfire for the Walt Disney Company. The positive is that the Mouse House moved this release to Disney+, which means that subscribers can watch it at no additional expense.

Colorful and fast-paced, Artemis Fowl has plenty to entertain little kids, as long as they are old enough not to pee their pants at the sight of an angry troll. It’s a sugar-filled adventure that is best observed through non-critical eyes who don’t care about plot, character, or originality.

Or awkward, cringe-inducing Josh Gad narration that director Kenneth Branaugh for some reason utilizes throughout the film. No. Just no.

For adults, and for “free,” Artemis Fowl is harmless entertainment, though to call it entertaining may be a stretch. Clocking in at a breezy 95 minutes, it’s simply not a film that holds your attention; there is nothing in this film that hasn’t been done a thousand times before. Branaugh is an inconsistent director, delivering quality product such as Cinderella and Thor (both Disney offerings) and generic fare like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and now Fowl; the movie feels like a cynical Disney release, one where the studio seemed content with making something flashy and consumable rather than unique or memorable.

As colorful and action-packed as it is, the entire affair simply feels bland. When the near-climax involves an extended sequence involving the protagonists (I couldn’t name a single one of them save the title character) battling an angry troll--essentially a rehash of a minor scene in the middle of the first Harry Potter movie--you realize there just isn’t much meat here. What’s more of a killer is its forgettable characters. While Gad, narration aside, is amusing, and Lara McDonnell, as fairy soldier (?) Holly Short, is a bit of a scene-stealer, the rest of the cast is utterly forgettable. About an hour into the movie, I realized I couldn’t recall a single thing the title character, played by Ferdia Shaw, had done to advance the plot, and in all honesty, he leaves so little impact I can’t even remark on his acting quality (truly, four hours after watching this movie, I can’t remember any bit of dialogue he said aloud).

And Judy Dench, between Cats and now this, really needs to fire her agent, or figure out a way to pay off the loan sharks she clearly is indebted to.

Artemis Fowl isn’t bad as it is bland, but it’s the kind of movie you should turn on for the kids and then slowly back away from and into another part of the house. Generic through and through, this movie fails to stir up much if any magic. Major foul.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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