Movie Review: Artemis Fowl (2020)

Based on the series of novels by Eoin Colfer, and particularly the first two books in the series, Artemis Fowl is a 2020 supernatural family-action movie released directly onto Disney+. The film stars Ferdia Shaw as Artemis Fowl, the 12-year-old criminal mastermind, who is left alone in his family manor following the disappearance of his father, Artemis Fowl, Sr (Colin Farrell) with only his family servant, Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie) and Domovoi’s neice, Julet (Tamara Smart) for company. In order to rescue his father, Artemis must team up with fairies and their kind, including Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) and Commander Root (Judi Dench) of the LEPrecon, and Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), a giant dwarf who literally eats dirt.

+ the characterisation of Mulch is trash, but at least they got his abilities correct, such as his jaw unhinging and hair acting as lock picks
+ it’s an easy target, especially nowadays, but who doesn’t love a good joke that David Bowie was a fairy, alien or time traveller

artemisfowl_2
Human-sized Holly Short; innocent and scared Artemis Fowl; “giant dwarf” Mulch Diggums; and Domovoi “Don’t you dare call me Butler” Butler. I feel personally attacked in every conceivable way.

– horrible, horrendous and disgusting casting, taking away almost all of the charm of the original characters purely for the sake of diversity. Every single character is either absolutely nothing like what their illustrations show them to be, or in the case of Artemis and Holly, their characterisations are so wildly different that it must have been a personal slight against me
– the changes to the story and characters from the novel are seemingly done simply out of spite, with absolutely no reasonable justification. Artemis is a sports-loving, uncertain-in-himself child; Domovoi — whose name we are not supposed to know, and not knowing it is a major plot point — is a clearly not racially ambiguous (and I won’t even touch the severe racist undertones at this critical time in our real world); Holly is light skinned and a relative newcomer to the LEPrecon, with a strong female role model in the gender-flipped Commander Root; Mulch is a team-playing comedic sidekick. I am reminded of both Dragonball Evolution and World War Z, which shared exactly one thing in common with their source material: the title
– the plot of the first book is over and done with (but with substantial changes from the book) in no uncertain terms by about the one hour mark of this 95 minute slog, which leaves the rest as basically a poor fan movie. Characters from the following books are introduced and seemingly have their stories wrapped up before the point we should even know about them, with only one very poorly executed sequel hook
– the effects are messy and unclear, and worst of all not exciting. Haven City looks like a run down industrial England, instead of a Wakanda-esque, technological haven (hilarious pun intended) it should have been. The costumes looks cheap and unlike the books descriptions, and Artemis has almost no fancy toys to play with to combat the faeries’ magic
– even as a film, unrelated to the books, there are numerous issues: the organisation of LEPrecon is barely explained the relationship between the Butlers and the Fowls is not really established; characters come and go with almost no introductions and plot points are brought up as major revelations, but we are given no warning and no time to digest before things move on

> I don’t understand how a company can mess up this badly. Did Eoin Colfer watch this and say to himself, ‘Yes, that’s the story I wrote, with the characters I gave life to, and the locations I imagined. How perfect.’

Should you see this film: Nothing in this movie is good. Artemis Fowl is perhaps the worst adaption ever made, to the point where I feel the creators must have trawled my various fan castings and seen into my brain to know just what to change (ie. every single thing) to make me, personally, as mad as possible. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

As a fun aside, here are my fan castings:
fishtank_artemisfoul_7
> Butler could also be Antony Starr, Liev Schreiber or Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (aka Game of Thrones‘ The Mountain). If you think all of these names are relatively similar (aside from maybe the latter) – that is kind of the point. Butler shouldn’t stand out in any major way no matter the crowd.
> Artemis could be anyone, and I have nothing against Ferdia Shaw as he was cast, he just needed to act more like Artemis in the books.
> Lots of people wanted someone like Anna Kendrick to be Holly, but I wanted to stick more to the description of her in the book, and the illustrations in the graphic novel.
> Julius Root is J.K. Simmons and I will hear no further discussion on this.
> Mulch should be mostly if not entirely CGI, not unlike Gollum, but speak as if he’s spent his life chewing and swallowing all manner of clay, dirt and crap (possibly literally).
> Foaly was tough, only because I had three seemingly perfect choices in Richard Ayoade, Simon Pegg and Stephen Merchant.

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