Artemis Fowl

Critics Consensus

A would-be franchise-starter that will anger fans of the source material and leave newcomers befuddled, Artemis Fowl is frustratingly flightless.

9%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 156

20%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,006

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Movie Info

Based on the first two books in author Eoin Colfer wildly popular children's fantasy series, Walt Disney Studios' Artemis Fowl tells the story of adolescent criminal genius Artemis, who captures a vicious fairy, and attempts to harness her magical powers in a bid to rescue his family.

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Critic Reviews for Artemis Fowl

All Critics (156) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (142)

  • A sense of indecision hangs over the whole exercise, starting with the screenplay, which has four names attached. Nobody seems to know how funny they're meant to be.

    June 17, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • This big-ticket Disney movie is a visual spectacular expertly assembled but it looks unlikely to be remembered as an all-time classic.

    June 17, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Test-marketed to death and very weak... I guess if you have kids, this will kill 90 minutes. It's very hard to sit through, though.

    June 12, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Artemis Fowl isn't an unqualified good egg, but it's perfectly adequate, and the best of the kid-friendly movies redirected to streaming by coronavirus -- a low bar, admittedly.

    June 12, 2020 | Full Review…

    Brian Lowry

    CNN.com
    Top Critic
  • A glossy and empty exercise in world-building.

    June 12, 2020 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • This failed Harry Potter wannabe replaces the naughty fun of Eoin Colfer's YA novels about a 12-yer-old criminal mastermind with a dramatically inert and emotionally empty film facsimile.

    June 12, 2020 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Artemis Fowl

  • Jun 26, 2020
    An incoherent mess. Disney's worst release in years.
    Bradley J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 19, 2020
    I think that maybe if I had never read any of the Artemis Fowl books, then I would merely hate this movie. But I have read them, and that makes it even worse. There are multiple characters in this movie who are doing a bad Cookie Monster voice, and the character with the worst voice of them all (Josh Gagrid) is also the narrator somehow? A decision which was both 100% unnecessary and 1000% annoying. As I stated, I read the books, but I want to be clear that I don't believe this movie is just a bad adaptation of that series, it is, stand-alone, pure fucking nonsense. Nothing in this movie is good, obviously, but nothing in this movie is even... an event. There is no throughline or followable plot or engagement between the characters and the audience or each other. I loathed almost every single moment of Artemis Fowl and I don't want to spend any more time talking about it.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2020
    Artemis Fowl is a popular children's' book series that has scores of fans who have been anticipating a film adaptation, but I have to hope they expected more than this. The Artemis Fowl movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), became a casualty of the Disney purchase of Fox studios, and in the wake of COVID-19 Disney decided to drop Branagh's film straight to its streaming service and delay this pain no longer. The critical reception has been scathing and honestly it was the one thing that piqued my curiosity to even watch Artemis Fowl. We follow young Artemis Fowl Jr. (Ferdia Shaw), a rich genius whose father (Colin Farrell) is rumored to be a notorious art thief. Dear old missing dad would fill his young son's head with stories of magical creatures from other worlds that he would assist. One day, Artemis gets a cryptic message that his father has been kidnapped by a mysterious figure (by an un-credited Hong Chau, of my). If Artemis cannot find the "Acculas" then his father will be killed. Artemis Junior teams up with his martial arts expert butler, named Butler (Nonso Anozie), to capture a fairy, the chip-on-her-shoulder recruit Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), and hold her hostage. This leads to attempted incursions from the fairy police, led by Commander Root (Judi Dench) and a kleptomaniac dwarf, Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad). The battle rages through the Fowl mansion all while threatening to expose the magical realm to the human world. The only way I can better comprehend where Artemis Fowl goes wrong is simply to begin listing those erroneous elements and try and better make sense of the head-scratching decision-making. 1) Speaking voices. This one is immediately regrettable and so obviously a mistake that it boggles my mind that Branagh and his crew signed off. Why oh why would you task Gad (Frozen 2) with imitating the gravelly Batman-esque voice of Christian Bale? Why hire Gad if you're asking him to adopt this distracting and unfamiliar voice? Even beyond that, why oh why would you ever have this gravelly growl serve as narration for the entire movie? Listening to this voice is painful and it made me pity Gad, though he alone is not the only victim of bad vocal choices. There's also Dench, already reeling from the stink of Cats, doing her best as the leader of the fairies or leprechauns, I cannot tell the difference, and she too has a voice that sounds like she's been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for life. It's such an unpleasant voice and it doesn't make either character seem more imposing. It just made me feel even sorrier for two actors that I was already feeling sorry for over their participation in this. 2) Lazy plotting. I had to ask my pal Alex Knerem some questions regarding whether or not what I saw on my screen was close to what was originally on the page. Apparently, the lazy plotting is ripped right from the book and not a result, as I theorized, of being more budget conscious. The entire story involves Artemis holding a fairy hostage and then just waiting for different waves of different magical creatures to come to him. Imagine discovering a new world of supernatural fantasy creatures with unique powers and unique worlds, and all you do is wait in your mansion for those creatures to come to you. It becomes a siege thriller. It's such a dull starting point, and it's not even like Artemis Fowl's cause is righteous. According to Alex again, the main character of the first book isn't Artemis but his fairy captive. Alex said, "The first book was billed as Die Hard for kids and Artemis is Hans Gruber." And that sentence blew my mind. Why should I care about the bratty version of Hans Gruber? The plotting of Artemis Fowl is strangely unimaginative because it's just one group trying to get inside after another, and ultimately once the location of the magic McGuffin is revealed, it makes even more of the plot feel lazy. 3) The dialogue. The pacing of how people speak to one another is simply jarring and unnatural. There is nary a breath in between lines, and so a conversation feels like every person in a rush to say their next line before their partner finishes. It becomes exhausting to watch and confounding given the movie's running time of only 90 minutes. Could they not have afforded a few seconds here and there in between lines of dialogue? Beyond the breathless delivery, the dialogue itself is so powerfully expositional that it becomes downright painful to endure. In any fantasy movie, there's going to be a learning curve to make your movie accessible to a new audience. Some explanation is a given, though it's best to learn as needed and through as many visual actions as you can (show, don't tell). With Artemis Fowl, the characters are constantly talking at one another, not with them, and they're just vomiting exposition. Here is a sample: "Beechwood Short used his magic to steal the Acculas from us, which need I remind you, is the most precious artifact in our civilization. The Acculas was stolen on your watch, he has put our entire people in danger, disappeared, and in my book that's a traitor." Woof. Then there's the redundant talk of the Acculas, but for what it does, it doesn't exactly seem worthy of lore considering we already have creatures from various worlds traveling to and from other magic realms. 4) The special effects. For a fantasy adventure, the special effects aren't really that bad though unexceptional. However, there is one nightmare-inducing exception. Mulch is an expert digger and part of his process is literally unhinging his jaw and stretching his mouth to far wider than would be otherwise advised. It is well and truly horrifying, and this is a movie intended for children. How many of them will be forever haunted by the image of Gad extending his jaw, then reaching his arm deep inside his own throat, and retrieving a stored keepsake? 5) The world itself. If you're going to drop me in a new world, you better make it interesting and worthy of further exploration, and Artemis Fowl doesn't do this whatsoever. If you want your audience to be hungry for future adventures then you better make this new world charming and well-realized. Artemis Fowl has the equivalent of "magic cops" with its fairies and that's about all we get as far as an alternate world of wonders. They have laser guns and flying ships, which begs the question whether flying creatures need themselves flying machines, and a judicial system we get a brief glimpse of thanks to that scamp Mulch being sentenced to hundreds of years of hard time for his misdeeds. Mulch is also derided for being a "tall dwarf" and others call him out for not being a "real dwarf," which makes me wonder if this is some colorism social commentary (I doubt it). The movie ends with the promise of exploring more worlds and meeting new species of creatures but I have zero interest in continuing any of this. The world relies too superficially on the basics of fantasy lore without offering its own personal spin. Imagine just reading a story that said, "And then fairies showed up, and then dwarves, plus a troll. And then it all worked out in the end." There is nothing special here to separate itself. 6) The character. Lastly, I was not charmed by any of these characters nor did I find them remotely interesting. The relationship between Artemis and his butler was boring, his relationship with his know-everything father was boring, even Artemis himself is a boring figure, a smug child who thinks he's better and smarter than everyone else in the room. Mulch is more annoying than comically disarming. Holly Short has her gumption to prove herself and clear her maligned father's name, but she too lacks the development beyond her initial description. None of these characters have anything approaching an arc. I don't want to spend any more time with these characters on any further adventures because they're not charming, they're not funny, they're not complicated, and they're not compelling. Artemis Fowl is a bad movie and oddly, perhaps even to its credit, seems confident about being a bad movie. Why else impose such a terrible speaking voice for Dame Judi Dench? It's reminiscent of that mid-2000s period where every studio was chasing their own Harry Potter and snatching whatever Y.A. Chosen One fantasy adventure I.P. they could find. It's the kind of story that seems to just been importing elements from other derivative sources, becoming a derivation from a derivation, a copy of a copy, and losing any sense of identity. Disney was right to banish this. Nate's Grade: D+
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jun 13, 2020
    This has been a strange year for new movies. From studios releasing some of their anticipated films early on-demand to straight-up selling the rights to streaming services, Disney must not have had faith in Artemis Fowl, but nobody thought twice about it going to their streaming service, due to theatres being closed anyways. Well, they have officially dropped their newest original film and I'll admit that I was mildly curious about seeing it since the first trailer. There's no beating around the bush here though, because this film is just really bad, all around. I'm not one to rip a movie apart, seeing how much work really goes into making them, but sometimes the end result is just too much of a mess to praise.? With all the confidence in the world, young Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw) makes it his mission to hunt down the magical fairies that kidnapped his father. I mean, that's the set-up of the film and all, but this movie takes far too many detours to really get a grasp on what's unfolding. The most annoying aspect of this movie is present for a lot of the duration as well. Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) is a character that is front and center from the very beginning, even though he's very far from the main character. They choose to have him narrate at least a good 30 minutes of the film and it's not just to provide context. His narration is pretty much there to describe every detail of the characters and the plot they are in so that nobody misses anything. This movie treats the audience like very little children. On top of that, this movie gets so bogged down in other side plots that the narration becomes useless anyway.? After watching Artemis Fowl, I had to do a double-take when I remembered that Kenneth Branagh had directed it. Although I wasn't a huge fan of his rendition of Murder on the Orient Express a couple of years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed his work on movies like Thor and the live-action remake of Cinderella. His direction has always been strong to me, and I could be wrong here, but there's no way that he had the final say on a lot of this final cut. Over a year ago there was a trailer for this movie and a lot of the footage seen in that trailer was clearly from a different movie. This is yet another movie that has fallen victim to the studio pushing the filmmakers in many of the wrong directions.? For the most part, the visual effects are definitely worthy of a mainstream theatrical release, but they made the movie also feel more childish than the story really was. In addition to that, I'm really not sure who this film is supposed to be aimed at. Obviously it was made for kids in hopes to start a franchise for them, but I don't see many kids being able to follow this film from start to finish. They will have many questions for their parents and I fear that the movie will be so uninteresting for them, that they won't even know how to explain it. This is a complete mess of a story that was taken apart and pieced together multiple times in the editing room, so I'm not even sure who's most at fault for this one. I don't want to single out a particular department here, but I would be fascinated to see a behind-the-scenes documentary for this movie. Overall, Artemis Fowl is a film that starts out as a Spy Kids rip-off but very quickly becomes this overdone film, which reminded me of how I felt about Jupiter Ascending, but honestly even more of a mess. I could see some solid elements of family trying to jump out of this movie, but anything worth noting is buried too deep to notice. I've never seen young Ferdia Shaw act before, but I hope he is given some smaller roles after this to improve himself because I believe his acting abilities were not to the calibre that a movie of this size requires. Even some of the musical cues in some of the more dramatic moments felt like epic pieces that belonged in an adventure or action sequence. Everything about Artemis Fowl just feels off and I was both uninterested and frustrated pretty early on. Even though it's available to stream if you have Disney+, I still can't recommend it.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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