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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Life + Arts

The Cougar Reviews: Artemis Fowl stands as an ‘undeniably horrendous movie’


Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

How disappointing. Perhaps it would’ve been folly to expect anything more, but somehow, “Artemis Fowl” managed to dash even the mildest of hopes. However, in the interest of judging the film on its own (lack of) merits, the film shall not be compared heavily to its source material.

It’s undeniably a horrendous movie and a comparison would muddy that status, instead focusing on its existence as a bad adaptation, which would simply not do justice to the misery that is sitting through this film.

“Artemis Fowl”, the movie, is set within a hollow universe and a thoroughly inconsistent set of rules. In one of the first action set pieces in the movie, a troll and the world around it is frozen in time, yet, when dealing with Artemis Fowl, the Time Freeze seems to … do nothing?

Well, to be clear, it creates a dividing line between the Fowl Manor and the outside world, making communication out of the bubble impossible which is what it seems to do in the book, but after setting up a powerful Time Freeze, the only explanation for not freezing the Fowl Manor in time is Commander Root saying, “I have to talk to that kid.”

Why? The faeries know exactly who the Fowls are and what they’re capable of, so why wouldn’t they use this all-powerful device at this opportune moment?

I wouldn’t ordinarily nitpick a plot hole, but a hole this big is a sign of the amount of effort that seems to have been put into the project, though not by the actors. Some of them seem intent on salvaging whatever they can from this mess, especially Lara McDonnell and Dame Judi Dench, whose talents are woefully wasted here.

Moreover, the characterization ranges from incomprehensible to irrelevant. Butler is just a regular butler with some extra affection towards his employer. Juliet is supposedly there for a specific reason: to relate to and understand Artemis Fowl.

But there’s one scene with the two of them. Briar Cudgeon seems to be being blackmailed into being a spy, yet he continually expresses contempt of everyone around him as though he were a real villain.

There’s no resolution to that arc, either. And, of course, there’s Artemis. Arbitrarily curt and wanting to look like a cool 12-year old in a suit, while making very few decisions that affect the plot (apart from the inciting incident) in a movie that bears his name.

He appears the most happy when he’s surfing and one-wheeling, yet this seems to be completely irrelevant to his character. We briefly see him at school and how he doesn’t enjoy it, then never again. We see him talk to a therapist and this has no bearing on anything that ensues, or any thematic relevance.

There’s nothing that Artemis Fowl does in the movie, other than tell Butler to kidnap Holly and act smarmy from time to time. It’s a confused, jumbled mess of a character that feels like it’s got no thought behind it.

All in all, this movie is horrendous, occasionally entertaining only by the talents of Judi Dench and Lara McDonnell.

Everyone else either does not deliver, or is simply not given the screen time or the script to deliver. But it’s confusing, it’s riddled with plot holes and it constantly makes no attempt at making the audience care for anything that’s happening.

At an hour-and-a-half long, the movie manages to feel longer and more laborious than some four hour-long epics. It’s simply not something that deserves a viewing.

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