Artemis Fowl

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Artemis Fowl Movie Poster Image
Book-based fantasy has strong cast, peril, dense plot.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 63 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include idea that children shouldn't be judged by their parents' behavior and that just because someone may seems to be a traitor or a criminal, that doesn't tell you the whole story. No one is wholly one thing. Reveals toxic way that greed and revenge can hurt a community, how brave people aren't always looked up to as heroes. Teamwork and loyalty help save the day.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Artemis is a genius, and his intelligence gives him the ability to solve problems and strategize in ways that no one could anticipate. Holly is brave, problem-solving, determined to show her loyalty to her fellow fairies. The Butlers are loyal and dedicated to the Fowls. But the Fowls do do shady and technically illegal things.

Violence & Scariness

Frequent danger and peril. Artemis Fowl Sr. is taken hostage and kept in a torturous stress position. His kidnapper calls Artemis Fowl II and makes demands against his father's life. A giant, scary, ravenous troll wreaks havoc on a party in one sequence. Later, it nearly kills the main characters and basically causes the near-death of one. A couple of big fights between the fairy military and residents of Fowl Manor. Frightening goblins play with fire they can summon; in one case fire is used against them. A fairy official has another officer arrested, refuses to help another fairy in need. Fairies are lost in a time freeze (it's unclear whether they die or disappear). A character is on the brink of death before being brought back to life by fairy magic. Humans and fairies use fairy guns.

Sexy Stuff

"Traitor," "common thief," "thief," "liar," "criminal mastermind."


Nothing on-screen, but the Artemis Fowl books are bestsellers, and the movie ties in with the book series, which has spawned games and apparel (particularly in the U.K.).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Artemis Fowl is based on Eoin Colfer's bestselling book series about 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw), who comes from a long line of criminal masterminds. Like the books, director Kenneth Branagh's adaptation has lots of action and peril and a few violent confrontations, including scary attacks by an enormous killer troll, frightening fire-summoning goblins, and a weapons-wielding fairy army. In one scene, it looks like a character is dying or dead. Language is limited to mild insults like "traitor," "criminal mastermind," and "thief." Artemis is stirred to action when his father (Colin Farrell) is taken hostage -- the "missing parent" angle could be upsetting for younger kids. Artemis also kidnaps fairy officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) to help figure out where his dad is. But ultimately the story shows the value of courage, teamwork, and not making assumptions about others; no one is wholly one thing. Judi Dench and Josh Gad co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNopenopenopenope June 13, 2020

Great book, horrible movie

If you kid likes the Artemia Fowl series, don’t let them know the movie exists. It does not even share the same premise as the books, the characters are treated... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byCricket2018 June 14, 2020

Disappointing and boring

Once again Disney has taken a great book, stolen its name and substituted a flop story to take its place. Alive characters were dead, dead characters were aliv... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byxXDarkSpaceNerd... June 15, 2020

How Disney Ruined Artemis Fowl

My mother has read the first three books. I have read all of them. In our opinion, Disney did an awful job in keeping it similar to the book. In the first book,... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byOlder Sister June 13, 2020

TL;DR: Don't bother. Read the book instead

I first got into the book series about seven months ago. Was I expecting this to be perfect? No. It's Eoin Colfer, who is pretty much a legend when it come... Continue reading

What's the story?

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, ARTEMIS FOWL is based on Irish author Eoin Colfer's bestselling, beloved books about the titular Artemis (Ferdia Shaw), a child prodigy who comes from a long line of criminal masterminds. The movie opens with a gruff man (Josh Gad) in custody, explaining to mysterious officials that Artemis Fowl II is a kid who shouldn't be underestimated. He proceeds to tell Artemis' story. When Artemis Fowl Sr. (Colin Farrell) goes missing, Artemis II quickly discovers that his father has been taken hostage and that he must now retrieve a priceless artifact that his dad stole. With the help of his family butler, Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie), Artemis comes to terms with the fact that a hidden magical world co-exists with the human world and that he must somehow dive into that world to save his dad. Artemis kidnaps Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), a young fairy from the Lower Elements Police (LEPrecon), to demand his own ransom. Meanwhile, Commander Root (Judi Dench), the head of the LEPrecon forces, intervenes to rescue Holly but realizes there are fairy traitors hiding among her ranks.

Is it any good?

Not nearly as magical as Colfer's books -- and far more confusing -- this action-packed but uneven adaptation is likely to entertain kids who haven't read the books rather than established fans. Branagh does get points for somehow corralling Farrell, Dench (who feels out of place to the point that you have to wonder whether this was all a favor for her longtime collaborator, friend, and fellow Shakespearean actor), and Gad into a project with two young newcomers. Farrell has little more to do than hang in a stress pose and yell for his son not to get involved. But Gad (who plays an oversized dwarf who's an expert thief) and Dench (who, like Gad, sports a gravelly voice) are crucial to the elaborate plot, with the former responsible for the movie's only laughs.

For his part, Shaw isn't so compelling that he'll be christened as the next big young star, but he's got the swagger and arrogance necessary to play Artemis down. The comedic timing? Not as much. McDonnell stands out as the smart, capable, and courageous Holly, although she's not as stubborn or reckless as her literary counterpart. The movie is sure to appeal to kids who like action thrillers involving magic, spies, and heists. But it might prove a bit difficult to follow with all the various subplots and magical intrigue, some of which isn't resolved by the movie's ending. The villains and baddies (and their ultimate motivations) will be lost on some viewers, as will the many magical names. Families may be looking for something new and tween-friendly to watch, but the best part of the movie is that it should make kids wonder what's missing and check out the much more compelling books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the amount of peril and action violence in Artemis Fowl. How does it compare to other movies in the genre? How does the fantasy element affect its impact?

  • For those who've read the books, what do you like best about this adaptation? What, if anything, do you think is missing?

  • Who is a role model in the movie? What character strengths do they display? Why is teamwork important?

  • What do you think about the movie's prospects for a sequel? What are your favorite page-to-screen adaptations?

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