When I was a lonely book-obsessed 12-year-old, I was WILDLY obsessed with Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. How could I not completely fall in love with a series described as ‘Die Hard with fairies’? Like any sensible pre-teen girl, I was wholly in love with Artemis, an amoral Irish criminal mastermind with tons of money, a hardcore butler, and charm for days. I’m pretty sure I even wrote fan-fic about the books at some point. Shut up, don’t judge me. I’m now pushing 30 but still have a major soft spot for these books, so of course I was far too excited to discover that Disney was adapting the first novel into a big-budget family movie. Kenneth Branagh wouldn’t have been my top choice for the director job but hey, Cinderella and Thor are a lot of fun, so why not? Plus the gender-swap on Commander Root, the cigar-chomping fairy general, was too good to ignore. Give me hardass fairy Judi Dench, dammit!
There’s been an unfortunate flop vibe around Artemis Fowl for a while now, mostly because Disney pushed the release date back from August 2019 to May 2020. That’s never a good sign. The new trailer hasn’t exactly alleviated my inner tween fangirl’s fears either.
Look, I don’t think any adaptation needs to mindlessly copy the source material beat for beat. That’s not how film works. Change what you need to so that the final product works. Still, does anyone else get the feeling that the people making this movie didn’t actually read the book?
Artemis is a villain! He’s not supposed to be small and sympathetic or good in any way. He’s cold and a total sociopath. He’d stomp on you to get to his goals at any cost. That’s why I loved him! Was Disney too afraid that people would be put off by the protagonist of the multi-million dollar selling series they optioned? Then why bother buying up the books in the first place? Did the Percy Jackson movies teach us nothing?
The whole movie feels oddly unimaginative too. The cast is pretty great — Branagh’s always been able to assemble a strong ensemble of talent — but I’ve no idea who this is for. The fans don’t care for it, as evidenced by Twitter reactions, and general audiences unfamiliar with Artemis don’t seem to care about this. It’s another example of trying to make something appeal to everyone but ultimately making a thing that nobody wants.
Still, please be good? It could work somehow? Pretty please, Sir Ken? I ask for so little these days. Let me have this.
Artemis Fowl will premiere in cinemas on May 29.
Header Image Source: YouTube // Disney