ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller is keeping an eye on the small screen’s streaming delights for the time being so grab the popcorn and settle on the sofa…

This glossy big-budget family-friendly adventure was undoubtedly meant to be a major summer ‘tentpole’ movie for Disney.

But when COVID-19 put paid to that – and Disney decided to fire this straight onto their new streaming platform – you actually begin to wonder whether the pandemic circumstances was just an ‘excuse’ to cover up this blockbuster failure.

Because to put it simply, the start of a new Harry Potter-esque franchise that it obviously intended to be – Artemis Fowl definitely isn’t.

Despite some interesting ideas – with Disney obviously hoping director Kenneth Branagh was a ‘great fit’ due to his work on the likes of Thor and Cinderella – leads to a muddled mess that is ‘done and dusted’ rather quickly.

Rather like 2007’s box-office failure The Golden Compass as a comparable misfire.

As you’ve probably gathered from the previous paragraph, this film has elves, along with goblins, dwarves and trolls, as a secret fairy world thrives towards the earth’s core in this adaptation of Irish author Eoin Colfer’s 2001 sci-fi novel.

And when Artemis’ (Shaw) father gets kidnapped – and his abductor (a pixie called Opal Koboi) demands that the youngster locates the magical artefact known as the Aculos to ensure his release – he teams up with loyal family bodyguard Dom (Nonso Anozie) to capture Short and unlock the clues to the location of the treasure.

Which is rubber-stamped by Joshua McGuire’s predictable turncoat switch as a power-hungry lieutenant late on – that has been ‘done to death’ a hundred times before.

With only the film as a yardstick – apparently fans of the novel would be angered by how it has been delivered on-screen – it can only be rated in that capacity, and despite a handful of decent fantastical elements, it quite evidently doesn’t live up to the promise of the source material.

It seems ‘rushed’ to fast-track completion with Disney seemingly giving up hope that this was going to yield a profitable franchise part-way through.

Which sadly leaves a Fowl-smell tarnishing what could have potentially been something special.

ESP Rating: 2.5/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Ferdia Shaw, Lara Mcdonnell, Josh Gad, Colin Farrell, Nonso Anozie, Nikesh Patel, Joshua Mcguire, Adrian Scarborough & Judi Dench

Running Time: 1 Hr 36 Mins

Director: Kenneth Branagh

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