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When different parties collaborate on a project, it can be said that everyone needs to play their part for things to work. The Artemis Fowl production seems to have been mixed up in the mess of the Disney/Fox merger, the Harvey Weinstein controversy, the COVID 19 pandemic and a complete misunderstanding of the source material. A film that has been in development for the past two decades and has been relegated to being quietly released on Disney+.
Based on the series from Irish author Eoin Colfer, the world is introduced to Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw). A 12-year-old genius who lives in Fowl Manor with his father, Artemis Fowl I (Colin Farrell), who is a world-renowned businessman. In his short life, the younger Artemis has become accomplished in numerous fields of study and has benefited from his father’s tutelage on many subjects, but specifically in relation to the fantasy world of fairies, goblins and dwarves. Lessons that proved to be exceptionally important when Artemis Senior disappears during his recent business trip and is accused of stealing ancient artefacts.
His father’s secret life begins to unfold before the young Artemis’ eyes and those of his bodyguard, Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie). The friend and employee of the family helps unpack the truth about the Fowl’s history as documentarians and protectors of the magical realm of these magical creatures. Then they hear from a shadowy figure who says that she will hold Atremis’ father captive until the boy finds and delivers the magical Aculos into her hands. The young genius must work with a giant dwarf named Mulch (Josh Gadd) and an elf officer, Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) to find the illusive artefact and bring balance to the universe.
Where should we begin with this debacle? This fantasy adventure seems like an ideal project for celebrated actor/director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), but something went wrong. The film is visually stunning and the development of the two worlds has the potential to tap into the hearts of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia fans. Unfortunately, the mix of the human world and the magical world of fairies turns into a hot mess of mythical proportions. Scenes and lines that are meant for laughs turn into cringe-worthy dialogue. Emotional moments of familial bonds become uncomfortable and laughable. Then to waste the talents of Colin Ferrell and Dame Judi Dench in these roles can only be said to rival the misadventures of the film adaptation of Cats.
Some could blame it on the Weinstein mess, Coronavirus and the studio mergers. Still, there is more to this story than obvious problems. The writing, the storyline and the acting all contribute to the difficulties of this film. The glaring one for fans will have to be that Artemis Fowl II is a villain in the book series, while the film tries to make him into a hero. A significant aspect of why this whole cinematic journey feels like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Massive plot holes, poor character development, inexplicable lines of dialogue and the lack of the on-screen chemistry within the cast all lead to a bizarre and forgettable film. One that needs to be banished to the deep inner recesses of Disney+.
Reel Dialogue: What is the value of developing new and imagined worlds?
Imagination: the faculty of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.
This unfortunate production may cause many to mix the creative worlds that Eoin Colfer has created over his eight-book series. A unique journey of reality and fantasy can only be attributed to the beautiful gift of imagination.
Even without entertainment at our fingertips or when life moves into a state of boredom, having the ability to bring up images and thoughts allows us to survive this existence. From the limitless well of the creative process come songs, stories and dreams which have been part of the human experience since the beginning of time.
Some say that certain people are more imaginative than others, but this reality does not diminish the fact that all of mankind was given this gift. At times, it does get used for less than redeeming results and some minds draw from darker wells than others, but this does not minimise the power it offers. The human imagination exposes the psychological and spiritual aspects of life that can only be attributed to God.
The question is what are you doing with your imagination? Is it to honour the one who has given you this gift?
‘And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’ Genesis 11:6
‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ Philippians 4:8