Digital review: Artemis Fowl is an uninspired dud

This science fantasy adventure film from director Kenneth Branagh claims the midway-2020 crown for the most disappointing film of the year

It’s one thing to miss the mark on a film with a regular budget. But when a $200 million, CGI-laden Disney film like Artemis Fowl falls flat, well, we call that a fiasco.

With a stacked cast, some insightful material to adapt from, and the vast Disney conglomerate behind it, this should have been a bombastic hit.

What we get is a soulless, superficial fantasy film that somewhere along the line forgot to sprinkle some magic into the proceedings.

The story of a young criminal prodigy hunting a secret society of fairies to rescue his captured father is rife with stilted dialogue, miscast actors and incomprehensible, lazy writing.

The plotting is a mess, and it’s hard to tell frame-to-frame what the heck is even going on.

Director Kenneth Branagh has brought Shakespeare to the screen, and the five-time Oscar nominee does come with a pedigree. From the recent Murder On The Orient Express remake to Henry V and Thor, he’s shown he can juggle blockbusters and art films alike. But there’s zero showmanship here, and that’s a huge letdown.

It would be unfair to lay all the blame on the first-time actor and young star Ferdia Shaw in his debut as young Artemis. With the other more seasoned thespians blundering around him so badly, he deserves another chance.

The only star who tries to leave his range is a growling Josh Gad, who grunts his way through the proceedings as an oversized dwarf. It never entirely works but he does get points for at least attempting something new.

Judi Dench scores another stinker of a role as a fairy commander and overacts once again. It’s better than CGI Cats, but she needs to find her way back to prestige, and soon.

Colin Farrell, a favourite of mine, plays Artemis Sr. and is given about 15 minutes of total screen-time. One wishes they might have utilized him a bit more.

In the end, Artemis Fowl has no panache, and it’s just an uninspired, tonally messy failure, where it’s clear everyone could have put in a bit more effort. This one claims the midway-2020 crown for the most disappointing film of the year.

Artemis Fowl is now streaming on Disney+.

Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.