It seems like the Mouse House's decision to skip a theatrical release for Artemis Fowl and send the film straight to Disney+ (it premieres on the service tomorrow) could've been a calculated move in more ways than one. Reviews are out, and many critics are crying "fowl" on the big screen adaptation of Eoin Colfer's hit YA book series, pointing to everything from the movie's allegedly incoherent plot to its cheap-looking visual effects.
By the sound of things, the script by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl suffers from some of the same ailments that plagued 2017's The Dark Tower: it tries to cram multiple books' worth of information into a 90-minute runtime. The result is a reported mess of a movie that some say does a disservices to its source material and falls short of its obvious influences like Harry Potter.
That's not to say that the first reviews can't find some things to talk positively about. Josh Gad (Frozen) and Judi Dench (Skyfall), for example, are said to give commendable performances as oversized dwarf/petty thief Mulch Diggums and elven commander Julius Root respectively. Even 15-year-old Ferdia Shaw — who plays the movie's eponymous character — is getting recognized for his "charismatic and sinister" turn as a young boy who must save his master criminal father (Colin Farrell) from the clutches of fantasy creatures he never knew existed.
Helmed by Thor's Kenneth Branagh, Artemis Fowl co-stars Nonso Anozie, Lara McDonnell, and Tamara Smart.
See what critics are saying below...
"How could Branagh — whose projects remain so firmly grounded in character, no matter their scale — have lost sight of the fact that a movie named Artemis Fowl should have focused on making the character someone audiences wanted to be around?" - Peter Debruge, Variety
"Perhaps most tiresome are its efforts to milk humor from the anachronistic collision of olde worlde quaintness with winking modern-day attitudes ... While Branagh did an adequate job in similar territory on Thor, he tends to lose the human dimension when juggling too much FX-heavy technology." -David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
"Gad gets away with some further scene-stealing by way of one of the few scenes showing off the intricacies of fairy life, in which his skills involving tunneling sees a massive burst of dirt shooting out of his ass, the only crowd-pleasing scene in the film." - Kate Erbland, IndieWire
"There are some highlights. Judi Dench, as fairy commander Root, essays a largely solid Irish accent, Gad gets a good joke about gluten, and Nonso Anozie is a cool henchman. But Artemis Fowl deserved a little more edge and a lot more coherence than this effort, and Irish kids deserve a better class of anti-hero." - Helen O'Hara, Empire Magazine
"Branagh and Tony-nominated writer Conor McPherson have taken Eoin Colfer's extremely popular young adult books, burned them, swept up the ashes and dropped them into Final Draft. Their script is a jumble of endless exposition and hollow characters." - Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
"Disney's Artemis Fowl offers some visual eye candy when it comes to its thrilling action set-pieces and special effects, but struggles to develop its characters into memorable individuals. Sadly, the only character to leave a lasting impact is Josh Gad's Mulch Diggums, who mostly serves as the film's narrator. If Disney was hoping to turn Artemis Fowl into its next big franchise, this film is not a good example of things to come." - David Griffin, IGN
"Artemis Fowl is not just a disappointing adaptation, it's a badly made movie. Its Frankensteined plot and its shockingly poor CGI — which could have passed in an early 2000s movie, but not in 2020 — leave it no redeeming qualities. It gives me no joy to say that yet another movie adaptation of a beloved childhood property has wasted Colin Farrell." - Hoai-Tran Bui, /FILM
"Artemis Fowl is a complete disaster; a hectic mess of world-building that tries to cram a big chunk of an eight-part book series into a movie that runs less than 90 minutes plus credits. From the look of the finished product, a large portion of the story (along with most of the characters' motivations) were completely removed, leaving only the action sequences and special effects — neither of which are impressive or exciting enough to justify sitting through the film, even one as short as Artemis Fowl." - Matt Singer, ScreenCrush