sun 14/08/2022

Artemis Fowl review - flash bang nothing | reviews, news & interviews

Artemis Fowl review - flash bang nothing

Artemis Fowl review - flash bang nothing

A poor adaptation of a magical world

Ferdia Shaw as young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl

It’s taken over 18 years for Artemis Fowl to reach the big screen, with Miramax originally buying the rights in 2001. Finally, Disney have brought the world’s youngest criminal mastermind to life, but was it worth the wait?

Well, the fact it’s appearing on streaming service Disney+ rather than waiting for a cinematic release probably answers that question.

Loosely based on Eoin Colfer’s popular novels and helmed by Kenneth Branagh, 12-year-old Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw) must save his kidnapped father by infiltrating the secret society of fairies, dwarves and goblins. Alongside his bodyguard Dom Butler (Nonso Anozie), elven police officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell, pictured below right) and dastardly dwarf Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), they must hunt down a mysterious MacGuffin known as the Aculos.

The film effectively captures Colfer’s madcap mishmash of fantasy and espionage. There’s time-bending gadgets and jaw-breaking effects; a world chock full of imagination and magic. Which is just as well, because the script effectively throws out much of the books’ plot.Ferdia Shaw, and Lara McDonnell in Artemis FowlArtemis Fowl is one of the great characters in children’s literature, a Machiavellian genius pulling heists across the world. You wouldn’t know it watching Disney’s version. Here, he’s a charmless afterthought, limited to exposition-heavy dialogue while everyone tells you how brilliant he is. Were it not for the narration revealing every twist was “Artemis’s plan all along”, you’d forget he was in the film at all.

Understanding said narration is also an issue. Josh Gad gargles his way through the script, apparently sharing the same gravel mouthwash with Judi Dench (both pictured below), whose turn as a leprechaun police commander is an amusing easy paycheck. Still, despite the best efforts to hide Gad behind comic-con Hagrid cosplay, his charm is undeniable and manages to raise any scene he’s not narrating.Judi Dench and Josh Gad in Artemis FowlPerhaps most disappointingly, the plot is strangely subdued. Gone are the international adventures and tangible threats of the novels. Apart from a brief trip to Italy, we’re confined to an Irish mansion and CGI underworld. Perhaps the budget was spent on the special effects, because it certainly didn’t go on hiring a compelling actor as the villain. This will be a big letdown to fans of the books, but even those going in blind will feel ripped off. What’s the point of holding stuff back for part two if part one feels so empty?

So why give Artemis Fowl three stars? Because the magic of the world is undeniable. The set designs and special effects are magnificent, enough to spark the imagination of any 10-year-old. Heck, even this 29-year-old gasped out loud, all alone, when Mulch Diggums first demonstrated his digging abilities. A lot of attention has gone into building the world and lore of Haven City and it shows. If only the same could be said for the writing.

With cinemas closed, Disney+ is perhaps the best place for Artemis Fowl. There’s enough energy and inventiveness to keep the little ones amused, without the feeling of being swindled by cinema tickets. Just don’t expect a follow up, this is undoubtably another in a long line of franchise-launching misfires.


Artemis Fowl is one of the great characters in children’s literature. You wouldn’t know it watching Disney’s version


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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