(AP) - No movie that features Judi Dench as a fairy who says “Get the four-leaf clover out of here” can be all bad, but the big-budget adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” tests that truism.
The movie debut of “Artemis Fowl,” which has grown into a best-selling series of eight young-adult novels over the last two decades, has been long in coming. First acquired in 2001, it’s gone through endless development, false-starts and release delays. Shot in 2018 and originally slated to open last year in theaters, “Artemis Fowl” finally arrives Friday on Disney Plus, the last detour in a long road to release for Kenneth Branagh’s $125 million fantasy adventure.
There are plenty of hallmarks of that struggle on the screen: general incoherence, awkward narration, a black hole of a protagonist. All of these things would probably doom any movie but they are particularly troublesome for one that’s also trying to reestablish fairies as a high-tech, underground militants.
“Artemis Fowl,” where fairies, goblins and dwarves live clandestinely below ground, adds plenty of muscle to usually more docile magical realms. It fuses fairy tale with Rambo, a revision that will appeal to anyone who ever read “Peter Pan” and thought Tinker Bell ought to have a bazooka.
The script by the usually much better Irish playwright Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl is surely much edited. The movie clocks in at close to 90 minutes and relies on the regular narration of a gravely voiced dwarf named Mulch played by Josh Gad.
Walt Disney Co. release; rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for fantasy action/peril and some rude humor. Time: 95 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.