Artemis Fowl Parent Guide
The only real tension in this flat, confused production comes from trying to figure out how the talents of Kenneth Branagh and Eoin Colfer could produce such an awful film.
Parent Movie Review
Young Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw) is smarter at age 12 than almost anybody in the world. He’s a master chess player, award-winning architect, and all-around genius. The world is his oyster. But when his father, Artemis Fowl Sr. (Colin Farrell) is mysteriously kidnapped by a rogue fairy, he hatches an elaborate scheme to get his father back. With the help of his manservant/bodyguard, Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie), the younger Fowl uncovers the existence of a magical underworld, and even kidnaps the unfortunate fairy Captain Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) as part of his plan to secure his father’s return. As he is about to learn, crime is a dangerous enterprise…
Adaptations are always a perilous ground. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the original novels by Eoin Colfer, I was pessimistic from the start that this would turn out well. I am a lifelong member of “The Book Was Better” club and am notoriously hard to please. To guard against my biases, I watched this movie with someone who has no attachment to the books. She shared my very low opinion of the movie, and I am therefore confident that what follows is a reasonable assessment of the film, and not just a reflection of my devotion to the novels.
I hesitate to use words like “unwatchable”, or “festering dumpster of misbegotten ideas and incomplete plot points”, or “deliberate mangling of enjoyable source material”, but all three apply in spades to this “film”. Despite the fact that the original book has more than enough action, intrigue, and tongue-in-cheek dialogue to keep any movie on track, the filmmakers have discarded almost all of the actual plot and characters. Instead, they threw the names and a few locations from the book into a sack, chucked in some vague verbs and action set-pieces, shook thoroughly, and took what came out as a script.
What is truly bizarre about this – or, at least, one of the many bizarre things about this - is that author Eoin Colfer was heavily involved in production and allegedly signed off on these changes. I respect the universe Colfer created in his eight book series and I’m honestly mystified as to why he would endorse this tire fire of misinterpreted ideas.
I love Kenneth Branagh, and many of his directorial efforts are reasonably successful, so I’m not entirely sure what happened here. Given his not inconsiderable talents, I can’t imagine an explanation for how this film went so badly wrong. The characters are flat and uninteresting, the acting is excruciatingly bad, and the script is confused at best. If that weren’t enough, the computer effects are pretty cheap and noticeably rubbery for much of the film. Given the talents of the Mouse House, there is absolutely no excuse for such incredibly sloppy work. If this were an indie film, made on home computers, it would be forgivable. But coming from Disney, it’s completely unacceptable. Maybe your eight year old will enjoy this, but that’s no reason for you to sit through it. You could have more fun sealing your feet in cement and jumping into a lake – that’s pretty much what watching this movie feels like, but without the refreshing feel of cool water on a sunny day.Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, and Josh Gad. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release June 12, 2020. Updated August 8, 2021
Watch the trailer for Artemis Fowl
Rating & Content Info
Why is Artemis Fowl rated PG? Artemis Fowl is rated PG by the MPAA for fantasy action/peril and some rude humor.
Violence: People are thrown around and hit by a troll on two occasions. A creature has a fireball shoot up their nose and explodes. A man is kidnapped and held in chains.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are several brief shots of a dwarf’s backside, which occasionally has dirt flying out of it.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated August 8, 2021
Artemis Fowl Parents' Guide
Artemis kidnaps Holly to try and get his father back, but as he talks to her, he realizes that they may have more in common than they thought. How does establishing common ground help people learn to get along with each other. Have you ever befriended someone you initially disliked? What changed your feelings about them?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The Artemis Fowl novels by Eoin Colfer are an excellent place to start. With more complexity and actual character development than this particular dumpster fire, they also manage to be funnier, more exciting, and much, much smarter. For kids who enjoy Colfer’s style, his other works include The Supernaturalist, The Wishlist, and Airman.
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull explores the hidden existence of supernatural creatures in what is otherwise a thoroughly non-magical world. Secreted away on preserves across the globe, every mythical creature you’ve ever imagined (and several you haven’t) live private lives, watched over by the caretakers of their preserves. When Kendra and Seth Sorenson go to visit their grandparents, they come to find that their grandparents farm is far more than it seems…
Jonathan Strouds The Amulet of Samarkand (and indeed, the rest of his Bartimaeus series) feature not one, but two anti-heroes. Not unlike Artemis Fowl, both Nathaniel and Bartimeus seem to end up doing the right thing – even if they don’t like it.
The most recent home video release of Artemis Fowl movie is June 12, 2020. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, Stardust sees young Tristan Thorn thrust into a world of magic and danger just beyond the hedge in his small village.
Spy Kids thrusts two kids into the world of international espionage as they go to the rescue of their parents.
Four siblings discover a magical word through the back of a wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.