Throughout my time trying to understand how to critique and understand pieces of media such as movies, television shows, video games, and the like, I’ve always tried to approach everything with a reasonable amount of optimism. Usually speaking, nobody actually tries to make something that intentionally fails to appeal to the general audience, even when the product serves nothing more than to be a quick cash grab. After all of the time, money, and effort, surely making a little profit back is something to make that work worth it.
But there does come a time and place when there comes something that many people say is bad, and just accept the possibility that I may dislike it before even clicking the play button. I don’t (And likely never will), but maybe there are times when my optimism could be dial back a few notches to help me accept the inevitable.
This is my experience with Artemis Fowl.
Now I don’t think I’m too unintelligent when it comes to an understanding basic plot points that help move the story along, even if the reasoning is meant to be subtle. It is tough for me to describe what actually happens in this movie in all good faith. In theory, we are supposed to be following a 12-year genius who works with fantasy creatures like fairies and dwarves to uncover mysterious artifacts and rescue his father, who’s been captured by mysterious forces.
This is all stated in theory because the actual product has to be one of the most sloppy and incoherent films I’ve ever sat through. Almost nothing about the world, characters, and conflicts are fleshed out, not even to the bare minimum. Many names are about fractions, people, or important items, yet none of it register as something that should matter even though the film acts like it is. When it’s hard to actually tell you why or how something in the narrative happens, it’s pretty much impossible to expect you to also care about what’s happening on screen. And despite how usually skilled Kenneth Branagh is, a director could not find any way to tie it up together into a neat package.
It’s almost amazing that too much of this film contains nothing but expositions about those things nonstop. Some much is being described, yet nothing of real importance seems to take place. Since the plot at no point is allowed to simply relax and just breathe, Artemis Fowl just feels like one very long third act of any other movie without the buildup to make the payoff feel worthwhile.
There are some talented actors here, such as Colin Farrell, Josh Gad, and Judi Dench. But the script and direction give them basically nothing of value to work with, or unfathomably cheesy at worst. Dench, in particular, gives some of her bizarre work to date with this never-ending growling tone spouting off some ridiculous one-liners. The rest of the cast is trying to make the material work, but their performances just cannot achieve that. Ferdia Shaw, as our lead hero, is either the most insufferable arrogant character or a walking plank of wood. Of course, I don’t blame him, but just how this film was handled from top to bottom.
I’ve struggled to find out how to write this review, but just like Artemis Fowl itself, my thoughts are too scattered to make anything that is actually well thought out or coherent. The movie’s bad. Everyone told you it’s bad. I think it’s awful. And let’s just leave it there.