I’ve never read the Artemis Fowl books, so I went into this movie blind. I’ve got nothing to compare it to and no expectations about what to expect.
Usually, at this point, I give a quick summary of what the movie I’m reviewing is about. This is going to be difficult because I still have no idea what the heck I just watched.
So there’s this guy, Artemis Fowl. He has a son who is also named Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl senior is an adventurer or thief or something and has what would otherwise be an unhealthy obsession with fairies and magic. Artemis Fowl junior is a 12 year old prodigy who disrespects everyone and is a pretty despicable character due to his intelligence. I was waiting for the movie to make this kid likeable and they never seemed to get around to it.
So, anyway, senior is kidnapped by an evil shadow person named Opal and junior is tasked with finding something called an Aculos which I believe is the source of all fairy magic and, if you drink everytime someone says “Aculos”…. Well, you would die, so don’t do that.
Then again, you’d get out of having to see the rest of this movie, so I’m not going to stop you if you want.
Oh, also fairies are real and they live underground in a vast technologically advanced society of various species of magical creatures. This sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Sounds like a place you’d love the movie to explore and exploit, right?
Too bad. This world serves little more than a matte painting to whatever it was this movie was supposed to have done.
There is a fairy named Holly Short who, given a chance to go up to the surface via a lava rocket (which is weird as the underground fairy world sends up something else later through a hole) and decides to clear her dead father of some kind of crime, I guess?
Long story short, Artemis Fowl jr., Dom his butler, Dom’s niece who I can’t remember the name of (and really had no reason to be in his movie, like… at all) and Holly come together to find the Aculos and rescue Artemis Fowl sr. as the entire Fairy army comes to the Fowl home to rescue Holly or retrieve the Aculos or something… I don’t know.
Also, Josh Gad is there and he’s a giant dwarf that eats dirt and shoots it out of his butt.
Is that in the book? Please tell me that’s in the book.
Needless to say, this movie is a mess from beginning to end. It is so morbidly overstuffed with exposition and yet is so amazingly anorexic when it comes to any kind of character development, explanation, or logic. Not once in this entire movie did I see anything that made me want to root for Artemis Fowl or even give a single solitary darn whether he succeeded or not. He’s a horrible person without a shred of humility and it doesn’t help that Ferdia Shaw appears unable to give Artimus any characteristics beyond the print in the script. I’m not usually one to dump on child actors, but Ferdia Shaw added nothing to a character that anything could have been added to. I feel bad for the kid. I feel so bad for him.
Come to think of it, absolutely none of the characters in this movie illicit even the slightest bit of sympathy or joy. I’d struggle to call them caricatures because at least caricatures are based on some sliver of humanity. Motivations for these people are either kept secret or lightly touched upon, resulting in a horrifying mishmash of boring characters running around doing inexplicable things.
And, man… this movie can’t stop to take a breath. You’d think that in a film where exposition is crammed into every scene transition, narration, and walk down the hallway that something somewhere would be explained, but no… the lore is there, but the scenes are just a mess of running, screaming, special effects, and head-scratching weirdness.
Speaking of the exposition, it’s bad exposition. Things like, “Hey, you know goblins like us rule the prison peak of Moria where we are all going!” Could you imagine someone looking at you with a straight face saying, “Come with us to Walmart, a grocery and goods store where we humans buy things!”
What sin has Judi Dench committed that she was forced to play a Cat in Cats and now a frog-voiced fairy police captain? I really hope she’s just trying to raise as much money as possible to keep the Globe Theater running because at least then I could admire her sacrifice.
Even Josh Gad talks like he’s got a mouth full of gravel like he’s trying to imitate Hagrid or something.
This movie is terrible. Like I said, I know nothing about the book series, but I don’t have to be familiar with them to know that this movie is awful. It’s soulless, it’s a mess, it’s embarrassing for all involved. It elicits no emotion, no wonder, and no awe and seems only to exist to set up a sequel that I’m totally sure will totally get made some day.
What’s worse, it actually manages to put forward some very impressive nuggets of worldbuilding and then does absolutely nothing with it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this movie is a grand world-spanning adventure with action and magic… this is Home Alone with magic, only without the fun parts of either one of the ingredients.
Of course, the worst thing this movie does? It’s not even bad enough to make anyone angry. It’s literally a non-event. Something so bland and forgettable that no one will remember a moment of it in a few months. Unlike the truly bad movies out there that keep our hatred ignited by the mere mention of their names, Artemis Fowl is so tepid and so meek that it can’t even be put into that category.
They spent 125 million dollars making this thing! I would have enjoyed a film of 125 million dollars getting fed into an industrial shredder more than watching this movie.
In the end, Artemis Fowl commits the cardinal sin of being boring. Just that… just boring and it had absolutely no reason to be. The pieces for a good movie were there, but like a big lumbering ox, it walked on those pieces, crushed them, and them buried them under mounds of manure.
This is a film that stinks of a corpse that had all of the fun crushed out of it by corporate focus groups.