Artemis Fowl was intended to be a Disney summer blockbuster at cinemas, but in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, and like many of the year’s movie releases, it has instead been released directly on Disney’s streaming service Disney+.
Based on the first two books of Eoin Colfer’s popular children’s series, it features anti-hero and would-be criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw), who kidnaps a fairy in an attempt to use her powers to save Fowl’s abducted father.
The fact that Fowl is 12 years old, and that the books are highly entertaining and well-plotted, should make for a hugely fun kids’ adventure piece. Unfortunately, the film failed to wow – well, anyone, really, at preview.
Released today on the Disney streaming service, it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 11%, though with an audience rating at 25%, it could go further given time. Whether the Kenneth Branagh-directed offering will kick-start the franchise it was so obviously intended for, however, seems unlikely.
Critic reviews labelled it as “dramatically inert” (Rolling Stone) and “a charmless chore” (Hollywood Reporter), while others complained of a muddled and incomprehensible story. Scenes in trailers were not in the final cut, (although this is not that uncommon), and the story jumps around.
Digital Spy‘s review said the film felt “incomplete”, with their critic Megan Davis musing that there was probably a “longer and perhaps more book-faithful” version. So the release of the deleted scenes alongside the release of the film is all the more interesting.
Since the film is no longer bound by cinema-standard running times, it’s odd that some of the deleted scenes weren’t just put back in. Especially considering that some of them appear to make the action more comprehensible. Digital Spy cites one particular deleted scene entitled “Search for the Book”, which runs a key sequence from the first book of the series.
The one thing critics did seem to like was the overall look of the film – as an effects spectacular it seems to have succeeded. However, high-quality effects don’t come cheap, and streaming revenue does not match bums-on-seats cinema receipts. That alone may influence how likely any sequel may be.
Artemis Fowl dropped on Friday on Disney+
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