Artemis Fowl (film)
Official release poster
|Directed by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Based on||Artemis Fowl|
by Eoin Colfer
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Edited by||Matthew Tucker|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
Artemis Fowl (known in certain territories as Artemis Fowl: The Secret World) is a 2020 American science fantasy adventure film based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Irish author Eoin Colfer. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh, from a screenplay co-written by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl. The film stars Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad, Tamara Smart, Nonso Anozie, Colin Farrell, and Judi Dench. It details the adventures of Artemis Fowl II, a 12-year-old Irish prodigy who teams up with his faithful servant, as well as a a dwarf and a fairy, in order to rescue his father, Artemis Fowl I, who has been kidnapped by another fairy looking to reclaim an item the Fowl family has stolen.
Originally intended to be launched as a franchise by Miramax in 2001, the film languished in development hell with several writers and directors attached until Walt Disney Pictures acquired the rights in 2013. Branagh was hired in September 2015, and much of the cast joined in 2017. Filming began in March 2018, taking place around Europe.
Artemis Fowl's intended theatrical release was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it was released digitally worldwide exclusively on Disney+ on June 12, 2020 and it is unknown if there will be a DVD or Blu-ray release. Reviews for the film were "pretty brutal".
On the coast of Ireland, a media frenzy descends on Fowl Manor, where a stolen collection of world-famous relics is linked to wealthy businessman Artemis Fowl. Arrested at the manor, Mulch Diggums is interrogated by British intelligence and claims that his employer has stolen the powerful "Aculos". Offering to prove the existence of magic, Diggums tells the story of Artemis Fowl, Jr.
Three days earlier, Artemis, a 12-year-old genius, lives at Fowl Manor with his widowed father Artemis Sr., who passes on his knowledge of Irish fairy tales. Artemis Sr. goes missing from his boat, the Fowl Star, accused of the theft of several priceless artifacts found aboard, and Artemis receives a call from a hooded figure. Holding his father captive, the hooded figure gives Artemis three days to recover the Aculos, which Artemis Sr. has stolen and hidden. Domovoi "Dom" Butler, Artemis' bodyguard, shows him a hidden library where generations of Fowls have catalogued proof of the existence of magical creatures.
Deep underground in Haven City – home to a secret civilization of fairies – Mulch, revealed to be an oversized dwarf thief, encounters Lower Elements Police reconnaissance (LEPrecon) officer Holly Short as he is taken to prison. Commander Julius Root dispatches the LEPrecon force to search for the missing Aculos, the fairies' greatest resource. Foaly, LEPrecon's centaur technical advisor, discovers an unauthorized creature has reached the surface. Holly is sent to investigate, despite the fact that her father, Beechwood Short, stole the Aculos and was killed. In Martina Franca, Italy, Holly intervenes as a rogue troll attacks a human wedding party. Using a "time freeze", LEPrecon subdues the troll and wipes the humans' memories.
Dom's 12-year-old niece Juliet arrives at the manor. From his father's journal, Artemis learns that Beechwood brought the Aculos to Artemis Sr. to keep it from the hooded figure, who is revealed to be Opal Koboi, a powerful fairy planning to wipe out humankind. Studying his father's notes, Artemis sends Dom to stakeout the Hill of Tara. Holly, determined to clear her father's name, disobeys orders and flies to the Hill of Tara, where she finds Beechwood's ID tag, but is captured by Dom and imprisoned inside the manor.
Root and an army of LEPrecon officers seal Fowl Manor in a time freeze, but Artemis and Dom fight them off using Holly's equipment. Artemis demands the Aculos in exchange for Holly's release, and forbids any fairy to enter his home while he is alive. Bound by fairy rules, Root is forced to retrieve Mulch from prison, offering him a reduced sentence to infiltrate Fowl Manor. Mulch tunnels inside and breaks into Artemis Sr.'s hidden safe, finding the Aculos, while Artemis frees Holly and asks for her help. Lieutenant Briar Cudgeon, a spy for Koboi, seizes command of LEPrecon and releases the captured troll into the house, jamming all magic inside.
Mulch swallows the Aculos as Artemis, Holly, Juliet, and Dom evade the rampaging troll, which is subdued when it falls from a chandelier. Pushing Artemis out of the troll's way, Dom is mortally wounded. Against Cudgeon's orders, Holly's fellow officers unblock her magic, and she revives Dom. Mulch and the LEPrecon army escape as the time freeze collapses. Left with the Aculos, which no human can wield, Artemis refuses to give such a powerful weapon to Koboi, and Holly agrees to use it to rescue Artemis' father. As Koboi attempts to kill Artemis Sr., Holly summons him safely to Fowl Manor.
Reunited with his son, Artemis Sr. tells Holly that her father gave his life to protect the Aculos, giving her a list of Koboi's accomplices. Holly returns the Aculos to Haven City, where Root, back in command, directs her to investigate every name on the list. Artemis calls Koboi with a promise to come after her, and joins his father and Dom in a helicopter. Mulch's interrogator offers him freedom in exchange for help capturing Artemis Sr., but Mulch reveals that Artemis arranged his arrest to prove the incident to the authorities, before proceeding to confirm the existence of magic and his own status as a dwarf on camera. As the interrogator calls for backup, the Fowls' helicopter rescues Mulch and, joined by Holly, they fly off to their next mission.
- Ferdia Shaw as Artemis Fowl II, a 12-year-old human criminal mastermind, with exceptionally high intelligence.
- Lara McDonnell as Holly Short, an 84-year-old elven reconnaissance officer of the Lower Elements Police (LEPrecon), whom Artemis kidnaps to hold to ransom.
- Josh Gad as Mulch Diggums, an imprisoned dwarfus giganticus gentleman thief who agrees to work for the LEP.
- Tamara Smart as Juliet Butler, Domovoi's 12-year-old niece and protégé, and Artemis' best friend.
- Nonso Anozie as Domovoi "Dom" Butler, Artemis' trusted servant and bodyguard, whose family has served the Fowls for generations.
- Colin Farrell as Artemis Fowl I, Artemis' absent father and criminal mastermind.
- Judi Dench as Commander Julius Root, Holly's 802-year-old commanding officer in the LEP.
- Hong Chau (uncredited) as the voice of Opal Koboi, a pixie from Ho Chi Minh City who kidnaps Artemis' father. Chau physically portrays Koboi in a deleted scene.
- Emily Brockmann, Jessica Rhodes and Charlie Cameron physically portray Koboi overlooking the elder kidnapped Fowl, credited as "Shadowy Female Figure".
- Nikesh Patel as Foaly, a centaur and the LEPrecon division's technical advisor.
- Joshua McGuire as Briar Cudgeon, a power-hungry lieutenant in the LEP.
- Chi-Lin Nim as Trouble Kelp, a captain of the LEP.
- Lewy Xing as Grub Kelp, a corporal of the LEP.
- Adrian Scarborough as the Goblin Chief
- Vincenzo Nicoli as the Goblin Sergeant
- Conor MacNeill as the Goblin Lieutenant
- Adam Basil and Taylor James as the Troll
- William Moseley as Italian Man
Miranda Raison and Laurence Kinlan, in scenes that were filmed but not used, respectively portrayed Angeline Fowl, Artemis' deceased mother, and Beachwood Short, Holly's deceased father and a former member of the LEP. Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer also filmed a cameo appearance as an extra.
In 2001, plans were announced for a film adaptation of the series. Miramax Films purchased the film rights with Lawrence Guterman signed to direct and Jeff Stockwell to write. In 2003, Colfer stated that a screenplay had been finalized and that casting was due to start the same year but expressed skepticism over whether or not this would come to pass. The film remained in development and was assumed to be in development hell until 2011, when it was reported that Jim Sheridan was interested in directing the movie, with Saoirse Ronan attached as Holly Short.
In July 2013, Walt Disney Pictures announced that they would produce an Artemis Fowl film, with The Weinstein Company, covering the events of the first and second novels of the series, and written by Michael Goldenberg. Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal signed on to the project as executive producers.
On September 1, 2015, Variety reported that Kenneth Branagh had been hired to direct the film for Disney, with Irish playwright Conor McPherson as screenwriter and Judy Hofflund as an executive producer. On September 12, 2017, Disney announced that the film adaptation would be released on August 9, 2019. The following month, Disney removed Harvey Weinstein as producer of the film and terminated its production partnership with The Weinstein Company following a sexual misconduct scandal involving Weinstein. Instead, Judy Hofflund co-produced with Branagh.
Colfer has stated that he supports the changes from the source material in the film.
On September 18, 2017, it was reported that Judi Dench was in talks for an undisclosed role. On December 20, 2017, it was announced that Irish newcomer and grandson of Robert Shaw, Ferdia Shaw, had been cast as Artemis Fowl II, alongside Dench as Commander Root, Josh Gad as Mulch Diggums, Lara McDonnell as Captain Holly Short, and Nonso Anozie as Butler. Colin Farrell was added to the cast as Artemis Fowl I during reshoots, and his involvement was revealed through the second trailer in March 2020.
McDonnell's casting as Short brought accusations of whitewashing, given the character in the book series is described as having dark nut-brown skin of a coffee complexion. Similarly, Anozie's casting as Butler was criticized, as the books describe him as a Eurasian who can pass as Japanese and Russian; and because the character's physical description of terrifying anyone in his presence, combined with his backstory of his family having served the Fowl family for centuries, was seen with Anozie's casting as embodying several stereotypes of African Americans and Africans, in particular the "scary black man" and "black servant" tropes.
Author Eoin Colfer filmed a cameo appearance as an extra. Describing his one scene, filmed in Northern Ireland, Colfer said, "I walked across a field with a lot of other people. It wasn’t too taxing – although I did manage to get it wrong a few times. The only direction they gave was: 'Walk across the field and don’t look at the camera.' I must have looked at the camera about 20 times. I have a new respect for actors."
On March 12, 2018, the rest of the cast was announced (including Nikesh Patel as Foaly) as principal production commenced. The film was shot at Longcross Studios, and in England, Northern Ireland and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, as well as in Italy and Scotland.
The film was originally scheduled for a theatrical release on August 9, 2019 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In May 2019, the film was pushed back to May 29, 2020. Later however, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cinema, the film's theatrical release was cancelled and it was exclusively released on Disney+ on June 12, 2020.
As of September 2020, on Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 9% based on reviews from 163 critics and an average rating of 3.70/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "A would-be franchise-starter that will anger fans of the source material and leave newcomers befuddled, Artemis Fowl is frustratingly flightless." On Metacritic, as of September 2020, the film has a score of 31 out of 100 based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews."
Comic Book Resources wrote that critics were "blasting the film for not being entertaining enough and [for] poor execution." Kate Erbland of IndieWire gave the film a "D+" and noted that it lacked "an effective star, good effects, general coherency, and any sense of actual magic," adding, "Taking serious liberties from the first two books in the series — all the better to slim down a packed plot, one of the few good creative choices that went into the film's making — Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl's screenplay eventually thins down a convoluted story to near-nothingness." Peter Debruge of Variety said the film feels "tortuously long at just 93 minutes" and that "we get a movie with a loosely defined hero, an even vaguer villain and a whole lot of things flying at the screen, in service of one of those endings that suggests we've just watched the origin story for a character we'll never hear from again." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "this big-budget fantasy adventure from Disney is busy and exhausting."
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it’s easily one of the worst films ever made.