Disney disasters are rare but this big-budget, live-action fantasy is certainly one of them.
Based on Erin Colfer’s popular YA novels of the same name, it’s been ineptly adapted by Irish playwright Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl and clumsily directed by Britain’s Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Murder on the Orient Express).
Set in Northern Ireland, it focuses on Fowl Manor, where a wealthy art and antiques dealer, Artemis Fowl Sr. (Colin Farrell), has gone missing, much to the distress of his precocious 12 year-old son, Artemis Jr. (Ferdia Show), a criminal mastermind who has already mastered biotechnology (by cloning a goat), emerging as a surf-loving, nerdy chess champion.
The police are questioning compulsive thief Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), a “giant dwarf” who growls and looks like a close relative of Harry Potter’s hirsute pal Hagrid.
“Let me show you the possibilities of magic,” Diggums teases, describing a high-tech fairy city located deep in the Earth’s core, operating under the aegis of 803 year-old Commander Root (Judi Dench), who enlists officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) to find a powerful weapon called the Aculos, stolen by Artemis Sr., who’s being held for ransom by evil pixie Opal Koboi (Hong Chau).
Meanwhile, back at spacious Fowl Manor, arrogant Artemis Jr. and his guardian Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie) capture and team up with plucky Holly Short, initiating a “time freeze.”
While this choppy, confusing film lacks plot cohesion, character delineation and concept development, it boasts a dense abundance of visual effects, including the pointless introduction of fanciful Irish folkloric creatures like dwarfs, leprechauns, trolls, centaurs and goblins.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Artemis Fowl is a dreadfully disappointing 2. Don’t bother streaming on Disney Plus.