Artemis Fowl (2020)

“Get the four leaf clover out of here.”

Maddening, gaudy, and downright confusing from the awkward start to the clumsy finish, Artemis Fowl seems to have been a failed endeavor from the get go. This lazy adaptation of author Eoin Colfer’s young adult fantasy series will make no sense to newbies, and it’ll likely frustrate those familiar with the source material. Even then, when it comes down to its own merit, the film is putrid and loathsome entirely because the story makes little to no sense. It’s a hard task to make a movie that will both bore kids and cause them to scratch their heads, but Artemis Fowl somehow manages to do that and little else.

Set in Ireland, where magic and wonder supposedly still exist, the titular (and too smug for his own good) megamind Artemis Fowl Jr. (Ferdia Shaw) spends his days frustrating school teachers and obsessing over his largely absent father (Colin Farrell), relishing what little time they do spend together. Dad’s usually off breaking laws and collecting rare relics, but an ominous phone call leaves Artemis worrying for his father’s safety, prematurely causing the trusted Dom (Nonso Anozie) to introduce the young lad to the family business. Turns out all of the fairy tales he grew up listening to and learning are actually true.

It’s almost impressively impossible to distill Artemis Fowl down to its most basic parts, probably because the film itself doesn’t really know how to treat them independently, not to mention how clashing they are collectively. Throughout Artemis’ journey we’re introduced to the ever persistent elf Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), a thieving dwarf appropriately named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad, whose guttural voice choices make the narration downright painful), and Julius Root (Judi Dench), commander of their world’s militant force known as LEPrecon. A precious artifact goes missing, Artemis hatches a plan, foes become friends for no reason, and then the film finally ends. It doesn’t know up from down or left from right.

I don’t put much of the blame, if any at all, on the shoulders of veteran director Kenneth Branagh. He’s an immensely talented filmmaker who is, despite the litany of issues present here, still able to manufacture a believable, magical realm. That’s about all of the praise I can give this dull piece of franchise flint though, destined to be an expensive one and done endeavor. Artemis Fowl shows us how a dwarf guzzles dirt and explosively shoots it out his rear end, gives Judi Dench the creative license to make her character sound like she speaks with a stoma, and paints its lead as an entirely unlikable brat. I suspect it’s a good thing Disney moved this one to their streaming platform. At least this way they won’t have to comment on what a massive box office bomb this flailing and failed franchise starter was surely destined to be.

“I want nothing to do with that brain.”

Rating: 1 out of 5

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