The theme is green, but is the movie really clean? Not really.
Because of the COVID-19 (here we go again) closing the movie theaters, “Artemis Fowl,” Kenneth Branagh’s first take on Eoin Colfer’s Irish book series about fairies, dwarfs, and humans, has found a spot in the Disney+ streaming service. I’m of Irish decent, so I was impressed by its green theme. I’m mainly talking about the green suits the fairy law enforcers have to wear, the locations in Northern Ireland, the underground fairy utopia (which often has an aqua light) and the accents (real or fake).
As for half of the movie, it seems often lazy, short, and confusing. I’ve been told that the other film critics to dislike this film criticized it for not giving the people who never read the book a clear understanding on what the story (the screenplay by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl) is about. It runs for about 95 minutes, and it all went by so quickly, I could barely tell if I was watching a movie or a teaser for a franchise.
We travel to Fowl Manor in Ireland, and meet a young lad by the name of Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw, the grandson of the late Robert Shaw), whose antiquarian father Artemis Fowl, Sr. (Colin Farrell) has been branded as an international thief, and has been kidnapped by a sinister pixie (Hong Chau). He’s stolen an artifact known as the Aculos, which in the wrong hands threatens the fate of humanity, and has told stories to his son about fairies.
Well, they’re real, and they have an underground utopia. So, Artemis must team up with his bodyguard Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie), a young fairy law enforcer named Holly Short (Lara McDonnell, another newcomer), and a giant thieving dwarf named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) to free his father. But first, the young lad must negotiate with Holly’s commanding officer (Judi Dench), whose officers has temporarily set them in a time freeze.
Part of me shows some affection for “Artemis Fowl,” while the other half tends to digress. I did like the performances from Shaw (making a nice introduction to his early movie career), Anozie (looking all tough, but really gentle on the inside), and Gad (mostly using a husky voice and having some silly moments); and I also admired the visual world, spiked with an Irish theme. Like I said, I’m of Irish decent.
But I barely believed Branagh’s take lived up to its full potential. It does feel inspired by “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” and maybe a little of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” if you count the scene when Mulch steals Holly’s walkman and listens to Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is.” But it often flies by so fast, that it should have taken a breather. Maybe not as long as the walk to Mount Doom, but still patient enough for us to get to the know the characters and their surroundings.
“Artemis Fowl” is a mixed cookie bag for me. And I meant to use that Kleeber pun.
Available on Disney+