‘I’m the next criminal mastermind’ – Artemis Fowl (2020) review

Disney plus has been doing a very good job at keeping us all occupied during the lockdown with tonnes of throwback series and lots of films. It is also regularly updated with new content to keep us all going and one of it’s latest new releases is Artemis Fowl. Now, I should probably be honest here and admit that I have never read any of the books. I have seen other reviews and seen how people are saying that it isn’t massively true to it’s source material, but I can’t really comment on that so this review is coming from someone with a completely new set of eyes to this fairy tale meets crime story.

The film tells the story of Artemis Fowl jr (Ferdia Shaw) , a young prodigy who hunts down a strange world of fairies and magical creatures after his father goes missing after years of teaching him all about these odd and mysterious creatures and their powers. With the help of his faithful butler Domovoi (Nonso Anozie) he takes on the fairies to protect a powerful secret. He comes face to face with young fairy officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), determined to prove herself and clear her fathers name, and along with dwarf Mulch (Josh Gad), they are forced to take on a fairy army, led by commander Root (Judi Dench), determined to claim back the magic for themselves.

Shaw and McDonnell are both impressive in their talents as young performers, and their characters of Artemis Fowl and Holly Short are interesting enough to keep you watching. Artemis is a extremely intelligent young boy, and he has a real drive to succeed. Shaw acts with a real sense of confidence, able to command attention over those much older than him. Artemis knows what he wants and he knows exactly how to get it, whereas Holly comes across as a little bit more unsure. She has this desire to prove herself but lacks in confidence in places. Whilst it’s good to see a character unafraid to sure their flaws, this flaw in Holly means that it takes a little while to warm up to her as a character as you find yourself feeling a little unsure about what her true story is. Nevertheless, McDonnell does have this little cheeky spark in her performance, something that I would have liked to see more of if the character had allowed for it.

Josh Gad plays over-sized dwarf Mulch and much like in most of his film roles, he is used to add comedy to the piece. In a story that sometimes feels rather slow going, his comedy gives it a much needed lift. Mulch may not be the best person morally, but he is likable all the same. He delights in misbehaving, and that sense of excitement adds a nice sense of energy to the story. Judi Dench plays Commander Root, leader of the fairy army and whilst she can’t really do no wrong, the character is just a little bit dull. Root doesn’t come across as a passionate leader, she’s more quiet and slow. You can see what she wants to do, but it takes her a long time to get there.

For a film made recently, I have to admit that it places this movie looked a little bit old fashioned. There are a lot of magical moments, full of lights and flying, but it doesn’t look that magical. It looks a little dated at times, as if it was special effects from a few years ago. The fairies may dress modern, but the flying effects certainly do not look modern. For a film with a relatively short running time of just over 90 minutes, Disney’s take on Artemis Fowl does feel rather long. It takes quite a while to get going, with most of the action squeezed into the last half an hour. It drags in places and rushes in overs, lacking any sort of balance and brushing over some vital character development moments.

This is a film suited to streaming at home. I can’t imagine that it would have done that well in the box office. I can’t say whether it is true to the books, but it’s story line is interesting enough for a quiet Sunday afternoon movie. It’s easy enough, and suitable for family viewing. It doesn’t make a huge impact, and probably isn’t a film that you would tell everyone to see. It’s easy going television, but doesn’t feel like something big hitting.


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