The popular YA book series from Eoin Colfer was one of my favorites growing up as it was a very different take on the fantasy genre than what the Harry Potter , The Lord of the Rings, and Inheritance Cycle series gave us. Artemis Fowl was inventive, funny, and an overall enjoyable book series that I would recommend to any budding fantasy reader. Normally, there are several films throughout each year that I despise. However, this may be the first time where I actively considered whether or not this is M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender (2010)—a film that I consider to be one of the worst films ever made—level bad. This horrific monstrosity of a headache inducer does not at all capture anything that made its source material great and would be better off in the dark depths of the Hollywood rejects’ dumpsite.
The story of this disgusting adaptation follows a 12-year old Artemis Fowl, a super-rich child who according to the script has an insane IQ. Upon the disappearance of his father, Artemis learns he belongs to a family of master criminals that steal artifacts that originate from the world of fairies. Trying to get his father back, Artemis captures a fairy officer of Haven City named Holly Short who, along with other LEPrecon officers, has been tasked with retrieving a stolen mcguffin called the Aculos. Artemis’ play is to use his prisoner to retrieve the Aculos himself in order to pay the ransom for his father’s captor.
The first thing that makes ZERO sense to me is the butchering of the story of Artemis Fowl. In the first book, Artemis is already a criminal mastermind and is the villain, his father had been missing for years and was presumed dead, and Artemis seeks out capturing a fairy so he can use their magic to heal his dying mother (the main overall plotline of the first book). In this rendition, Artemis is just an super-smart arrogant child that enjoys surfing, and in typical Disney fashion, the screenwriters decided to go ahead and say the mom had been dead for years. So, the main heartbeat and emotion of the first book is already thrown out the window.
The books were known for not taking themselves too seriously as they were littered with humor and wit that constantly poked fun at the silliness of it all. This film, as a whole, is like the scene from Joker (2019) where the Joker is doing stand-up where he thinks everyone is laughing, but in reality he was a cringy, humorless mess. There is not a single joke in this entire movie that lands as every single one falls flat on its face. There are multiple times throughout this trainwreck where I either actively groaned, covered my face, or pinched myself so I could feel pain somewhere other than my eyes. It’s almost like the writers picked up a Scholastic Book Fair joke book for 2nd-graders and asked themselves, “how could we make this joke more mundane?” If that’s what they were looking for, they nailed it. Great job.
Sometimes you can hold out hope that actors may be able to salvage films with disgusting excuses for a script in make them somewhat tolerable. Well, nope! Not here. There is not a single redeemable performance in this entire cesspool. Dame Judi Dench was horrendously bad with her single, deadpan expression and ear-numbingly bad accent. Colin Farrell in every scene, that he’s in, either looked bewildered at why he decided to sign on to this project or astonished at how incredibly bad the talent scouts and casting directors were for this film. Josh Gad, whose character for whatever reason was given omniscient narrator abilities, was painfully trying to appear more serious than the lines that were given to him. The poor kid that wasted his shot in Hollywood by playing Artemis, Ferdia Shaw, was so horrendously awful that he made the “I don’t like sand” scene with Hayden Christensen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones look Oscar worthy in comparison. I don’t want to attack the kid too much because he is just a kid, but yikes, this kid could not deliver a believable line with a believable vocal cadence or believable emotion if it would save his life. Do not hold out hope for a redeemable performance on this abuse to the senses.
For those not aware, this was supposed to be Disney’s chance to grasp the “Harry Potter market” and was scheduled to be a wide-release film. I would like to personally thank whoever made the call at Disney to put it direct-to-streaming because if I would have payed money to see this blatantly disgusting piece “art”, I would have been more infuriated than I already am. It is safe to say, that this is easily in the top 5 worst movies I have ever seen, and the more I contemplate on this steaming pile of garbage, the more I think it may overtake The Last Airbender (2010). If you are a fan of the books, skip it. If you are a fan of movies in general, skip it. Do not punish yourself by watching this mess of a film. If I had the option to watch this again or listen to a 48-hour loop of the Nyan Cat YouTube video from 2011 every week for the rest of my life: I would chose the Cat.
Rated PG for fantasy action/peril and some rude humor.