This has been a strange year for new movies. From studios releasing some of their anticipated films early on-demand to straight-up selling the rights to streaming services, Disney must not have had faith in Artemis Fowl, but nobody thought twice about it going to their streaming service, due to theatres being closed anyways. Well, they have officially dropped their newest original film and I'll admit that I was mildly curious about seeing it since the first trailer. There's no beating around the bush here though, because this film is just really bad, all around. I'm not one to rip a movie apart, seeing how much work really goes into making them, but sometimes the end result is just too much of a mess to praise.
With all the confidence in the world, young Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw) makes it his mission to hunt down the magical fairies that kidnapped his father. I mean, that's the set-up of the film and all, but this movie takes far too many detours to really get a grasp on what's unfolding. The most annoying aspect of this movie is present for a lot of the duration as well. Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) is a character that is front and center from the very beginning, even though he's very far from the main character. They choose to have him narrate at least a good 30 minutes of the film and it's not just to provide context. His narration is pretty much there to describe every detail of the characters and the plot they are in so that nobody misses anything. This movie treats the audience like very little children. On top of that, this movie gets so bogged down in other side plots that the narration becomes useless anyway.
After watching Artemis Fowl, I had to do a double-take when I remembered that Kenneth Branagh had directed it. Although I wasn't a huge fan of his rendition of Murder on the Orient Express a couple of years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed his work on movies like Thor and the live-action remake of Cinderella. His direction has always been strong to me, and I could be wrong here, but there's no way that he had the final say on a lot of this final cut. Over a year ago there was a trailer for this movie and a lot of the footage seen in that trailer was clearly from a different movie. This is yet another movie that has fallen victim to the studio pushing the filmmakers in many of the wrong directions.
For the most part, the visual effects are definitely worthy of a mainstream theatrical release, but they made the movie also feel more childish than the story really was. In addition to that, I'm really not sure who this film is supposed to be aimed at. Obviously it was made for kids in hopes to start a franchise for them, but I don't see many kids being able to follow this film from start to finish. They will have many questions for their parents and I fear that the movie will be so uninteresting for them, that they won't even know how to explain it. This is a complete mess of a story that was taken apart and pieced together multiple times in the editing room, so I'm not even sure who's most at fault for this one. I don't want to single out a particular department here, but I would be fascinated to see a behind-the-scenes documentary for this movie.
Overall, Artemis Fowl is a film that starts out as a Spy Kids rip-off but very quickly becomes this overdone film, which reminded me of how I felt about Jupiter Ascending, but honestly even more of a mess. I could see some solid elements of family trying to jump out of this movie, but anything worth noting is buried too deep to notice. I've never seen young Ferdia Shaw act before, but I hope he is given some smaller roles after this to improve himself because I believe his acting abilities were not to the calibre that a movie of this size requires. Even some of the musical cues in some of the more dramatic moments felt like epic pieces that belonged in an adventure or action sequence. Everything about Artemis Fowl just feels off and I was both uninterested and frustrated pretty early on. Even though it's available to stream if you have Disney+, I still can't recommend it.