ARTEMIS FOWL Review — Not the Franchise Opener We Expected

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Artemis Fowl review says that Disney suffers a rare miss with this potential fantasy franchise.

Artemis Fowl reviewWell, no one bats 1,000. Color most people grateful that Disney+ was willing to release a film originally intended for the big screen, at a time when public theaters are only able to take baby steps back toward normalcy and streaming is the only option for a sizable audience.

Since that sizable audience is likely to be puzzled, and perhaps even disappointed by Artemis Fowl, streaming on Disney+ seems the preferable way to go. My husband and I sat at home watching it on our decently-sized screen, wondering if we would appreciate it more in a movie theater. Then we looked at each other and said, “Nah — this just isn’t a good film.” And my colleagues on Rotten Tomatoes seem to agree — last I checked it had a Rotten rating of 10%, which is practically unheard of for a Disney Film.

Based on the first two books of Eoin Colfer’s extremely popular children’s fantasy series, this looked like it could have been a Harry Potter successor — the material is certainly there. Artemis Fowl II (newcomer Ferdia Shaw) is a young teenage criminal mastermind, with access to resources both earthly (wealth untold) and fantastical (magic, fairies, trolls, etc.) to pull off the unfathomable, in this case, rescuing his dad (Colin Farrell) from mystical evil forces.

In spite of the rich material, director Kenneth Branagh’s uncharacteristically weak execution doesn’t deliver what could have been. Much of it has to do with casting. Josh Gad plays a Hagrid-looking character who sounds and acts like he was born in Encino, and young Colfer was not encouraged to show enough of the humor, vulnerability or charm so necessary for a lead in this type of franchise.

These missteps could also be attributed to lack of character and plot development. It’s seldom clear what’s happening or why, and so many scenes are just plain awkward or unfinished.

You might be wondering if your own, negative Artemis Fowl review is the result of quarantine-induced brain fog. Don’t worry—it’s not you, it’s the movie.

Rated PG

1 Hour 35 Minutes

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Artemis Fowl review says that Disney suffers a rare miss with this potential fantasy franchise.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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