Artemis Fowl (2020)

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With the results of my recent poll indicating that y’all wanna see me review Disney+ original live-action films on this blog, the first one I decided to tackle was the recent Artemis Fowl. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, this adaptation of the book series written by Eoin Colfer, was in development by Disney for years! It was originally intended for a theatrical release in 2019 which got postponed to 2020 which got downgraded to a Disney+ release. What did I think of the film? Read on to find out!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

As the film begins, we see news and police vehicles surrounding a luxurious house known as Fowl Manor. A hairy, disheveled man is arrested outside the premises and taken in for questioning by British Intelligence. The suspect is Mulch Diggums, played by Josh Gad, and has been arrested regarding a number of thefts linked to Artemis Fowl, the owner of Fowl Manor. Mulch begins to give his statement via flashback.

Walt Disney World pre-COVID-19?

Through Mulch’s statement we’re introduced to the character of Artemis Fowl, well, Artemis Fowl II to be precise, played by Ferdia Shaw. He’s a 12-year-old genius bored with most people except for his father, Artemis Fowl, Sr., played by Colin Farrell. Mr. Farrell is a collector of relics worldwide as well as an expert in Irish fairy tales and mythology. He often goes out on business trips though leaving young Artemis behind. But young Artemis treasures the time his father is indeed home and always anticipates his return when he departs.

“I’ll be your candle on the water…”

When Mr. Fowl leaves on business trips, Artemis isn’t left alone though. Rather he has a bodyguard named Dom Butler, played by Nonso Anozie, who is there to stay with him and protect him and the manor.

“Or you can him Johnny or you can call him Sunny or you can call him Judy…”

On one of these occasions, Artemis learns on the news that his father has gone missing from his yachts and a bunch of thefts around the world have been linked back to him.

I mean seriously, who goes “My dad” when identifying their father on the news? Surely, they would use a term of endearment like “Dad” or “Daddy” or “Father” or something!

It’s not long before Artemis receives a phone call from a cloaked figure with a raspy voice who admits to kidnapping his father. The figure tells Artemis that his father stole something called the Aculos from him and has hidden it somewhere in the manor. The figure demands the Aculos in return for Mr. Fowl’s life.

After the phone call, Dom reveals to Artemis secrets about his father. Apparently Mr. Fowl steals relics to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, a family profession that has existed for some generations now. And most times, the so-called “wrong hands” tend to be creatures of legend and folklore. This was the reason why Mr. Fowl taught his son everything he knew about fairies, dwarfs, trolls, etc. because they are real, living creatures! Artemis is mind blown at this revelation and Dom does all he can to prepare Artemis for what’s about to come. He even brings his 12-year-old Jiu-jitsu-trained niece, Juliet, played by Tamara Smart, to…I dunno, provide moral support to Artemis?

“You ready to be criminally underused so much so that it’s downright offensive?”
“Boy, am I!”

We then cut to Haven City, a hidden metropolis wherein reside a population of fairies. We also see a prison wherein other legendary creatures are incarcerated at. One such creature is our storyteller, Mulch himself, who turns out to not be a man after all, but a really tall dwarf. Mulch has been arrested for tunneling and stealing, two skills that will come into play later.

In this world, there exists a covert organization known as L.E.P. RECON.


Their main objective is to keep their world safe and hidden from the human world. They are led by Commander Root, played by Judi Dench. One of the main objectives of the organization currently is to also find the Aculos. The mysterious Aculos was stolen years ago and lost to the human world and L.E.P. RECON have been searching for it ever since.

On this particular day though, news has arrived that a creature from their world has been spotted in athe human world. Commander Root reluctantly sends elven officer, Holly Short, played by Lara McDonnell, to take care of the situation. The reluctance doesn’t have anything to do with Holly’s abilities though; it’s due to the fact that she is the daughter of the late elf who stole the Aculos to begin with.

Holly heads out to the human world and realizes that the creature that has escaped is a troll.

Sorry buddy, but filming for The BFG wrapped up four years ago!

She and her team use their magical abilities of freezing time to get the troll out of there without the humans knowing what has happened. The mission is a success, but Holly makes a diversion before heading back to headquarters. She wants to find proof that her father wasn’t a thieving traitor. While searching on a hill near Fowl Manor, she is captured by Dom.

Artemis holds Holly prisoner in the manor with the intention of using her as bait to hopefully bring his father’s captor out of hiding. When Commander Root discovers what’s happened to Holly, she sends her troops to Fowl Manor to break in and rescue Holly. Dom and Artemis are prepared for a fight though.

Who do you think you are, Iron Man?

They use Holly’s own weapons against Commander Root and her forces (who have put the entire area of Fowl Manor in a time freeze so that no other human is aware of what’s going on). Commander Root then recruits Mulch out of jail and makes a deal with him to tunnel into the Manor. Mulch accepts the deal and successfully tunnels into the manor. While there, he finds Mr. Fowl’s secret safe and uses his thieving skills to crack it discovering the Aculos hidden behind it.

By now, Artemis has befriended Holly after realizing that they’re both on similar paths to save their fathers and that they’re not each other’s enemies. He also befriends Mulch (although I can’t for the life of me remember how). This helps when the troll from before is brought to attack Artemis and his friends from inside.

After the troll is incapacitated, Holly uses the Aculos (which turns out to be a magical weapon of some kind) to bring back Mr. Fowl much to the anger of his cloaked captor, Opal Koboi. Mr. Fowl thanks Holly and lets her know that he was a friend of her fathers and that her father was not a traitor. Her father stole the Aculos to protect it from falling into the wrong hands.

“We didn’t have time to delve more deeply into his story, but he was a hero.”

We’ve now returned to the present time with Mulch finishing up his story to British Intelligence. They, of course, don’t believe any of his story regarding fairies and dwarfs and trolls, oh my! But just then, Mr. Fowl’s helicopter arrives and rescues Mulch from British Intelligence. The film ends with Mr. Fowl, Artemis, Mulch, Dom, and Holly flying towards their next mission.

And that was Artemis Fowl. The keyword here is disappointment! This film had so much potential to introduce a new fantasy world to a new audience who never was exposed to the books, myself included, but instead leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Exactly who is Opal Koboi? Why don’t we know more about Holly’s father? Etc.

Instead, we get a very generic film that plays it way too safe. I mean, Artemis pretty much stays in the manor for the entirety of the movie! Juliet is barely used as a character and would probably have been better off not appearing at all. And don’t get me started on how bad the exposition is! It’s constant as well as incredibly badly inserted! It just doesn’t work.

The visual effects were nothing to write home about, but the acting was commendable by all except Ferdia. I felt his dialogue delivery didn’t quite cut it. In the end, I expected a lot more from Kenneth Branagh and a lot more from this film.

So, my final score for this film is 20/35 = 57.14% (F) !

The next review will be posted on August 11, 2020.

8 thoughts on “Artemis Fowl (2020)

  1. That Artemis Fowl stays in the manor for the whole movie is actually the only book accurate thing about it. In the book though, HE is the mastermind who kidnaps Holly for his own gain.

      1. Oh, they also added a McGuffin which wasn’t a thing in the whole book series so far, changed the gender of Holly’s boss so that her main motivation of proving herself as the first female police officer was gone, turned Artemis, the pale vampire like kid who hates any kind of sport, into some sort of spy kid, and introduced characters which weren’t supposed to turn up until way later in the story. And that’s just the changes I got from the trailer. I refuse to actually watch this thing.

      2. Sheesh, McGuffins aplenty here!

        There’s one scene in the trailer which didn’t appear in the film, but I think it spoils the villain as we don’t actually see who the villain is in this film.

  2. Have you read the book? I thought it was an okay book, not a favorite, but they could have done a lot with the movie and it sounds like they didn’t. In the book Artemis is almost the villain of the story. There was no Aculos either. I haven’t watched the movie yet but this does not have me excited to do so, lol.

      1. I would recommend the first three books of the series. I think it really went off the rails after them, but up to its point, its a perfect trilogy, with the third book being through and through amazing.

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