We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
What do you think about the movie's prospects for a sequel? What are your favorite page-to-screen adaptations?
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2020
- Cast: Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad
- Director: Kenneth Branagh
- Studio: Disney+
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: fantasy action/peril and some rude humor
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love exciting movies
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch