This movie is so bad, such a failure in every level of moviemaking, that I’m thinking about writing a review of it even though Amazon doesn’t have a whisper of a DVD/Blu-ray release. It is that bad.
It is so bad that when the trailer came out, I was aghast. I had not even read the first book in full, but I knew that this was an utter betrayal. My sister, who has only read the first CHAPTER of the first book, could see that it was a betrayal.
It’s a failure as an adaptation. They gutted it of the central premise that made it so unique and interesting, because Kenneth Branagh figured that kids couldn’t relate to a super-genius villain kid who doesn’t go to school.
Yo, Kenneth: lack of relatability is frequently a flaw in the audience, not in the character being adapted. If a person can’t relate to someone who isn’t exactly like them, then they’re not very imaginative and probably shouldn’t be watching a fantasy movie. If not going to an ordinary school somehow makes a child character unrelatable to real children, then they’re not going to be able to cope with ideas like fairy folk.
Except real children AREN’T like that — and I know this because quite a few of them read the books and had no trouble relating to Artemis, so I’m not just projecting my weird dark past-child self on the population at large. Because children are not dainty little angels who can’t comprehend things like greed, ruthlessness, anger and so on. They can comprehend why Artemis does things the way he does, even if they wouldn’t do it themselves.
And they LIKE the idea of a child criminal mastermind. They like seeing a kid being the haughty, smarter-than-everyone-else genius who can wrap even powerful fairies around his finger. They love that. The fact that he’s a criminal doesn’t matter to them — they love that he’s the smartest, which in the books is SHOWN rather than simply told to us.
And Branagh also gutted other parts of the story. In the book, Holly Short is the first and only woman in the LEPrecon force, and she has to fight against sexism and the heightened expectations that come with being a trailblazer. Does the movie show this to children? Nope! It decides to fill LEPrecon with female officers, because why show children that sexism is bad when you can just pretend it doesn’t exist?
Then they added the Aculos. What is the Aculos? It is a MacGuffin that serves to fix everything at the end, and nothing else. It was made up for this movie because Disney is stupid.
And there are a billion other changes that either don’t make sense or change things for the worse. Artemis’ mother being dead, because children are dainty angels who cannot cope with subplots about mental illness. Artemis just being told about the fairies instead of deducing it for himself. Cramming in Opal and other elements from the second book. Changing Artemis’ motivation from simple filthy lucre to “I must save my daddy!”
And for some reason, they decided to make the Eurasian Butler… the servant born to be a servant, from an ancient clan of servants… black. There is simply no way that that doesn’t look bad. Also, Butler is supposed to be a terrifying mountain of a man who can snap you in half with his bare hands, and the actor in the movie… looks kind of tubby. He’s not intimidating. And the blue contacts are very distracting; in some lights, they make him look blind.
They also decided, for no apparent reason, to have two different fairy characters talk like Christian Bale’s Batman. It sounds ridiculous, especially coming from Josh Gad’s Mulch Diggums, who looks like (to quote many reviews) a discount Hagrid and sounds like he’s about to tell us that he is the night. And Dame Judi Dench, for some reason, sounds like she smoked ALL the cigarettes and followed them up with a few gallons of whiskey.
Oh, and they removed God from the text of the Irish Blessing, because Mickey Mouse forbid we have even a hint of Christianity in anything. Feck you and your intolerance, Disney.
There was one thing… one thing in the entire movie that they kept, unadulterated and unalloyed. And it was the ONE thing that nobody actually wanted them to keep.
Did they somehow think that changing the very bedrock of the story was essential, but the one part that they COULDN’T change was having Mulch unhinge his jaw like a python and shoot dirt out of his ass? That was just ESSENTIAL. We can have a Artemis Fowl movie where the protagonist is an earnest good boy who surfs, but not have an Artemis Fowl movie where Mulch doesn’t poop large quantities of dirt while we sit there in agony.
Just… why? It was pretty gross and weird in the book, but it’s a thousand times worse when you actually see it in all its terrible CGI glory. Why? Why? Why?
Congratulations, Disney. First you absolutely molested A Wrinkle in Time (where they also erased any hint of Christianity), and now you’ve done even worse to Artemis Fowl. And the worst part is, you’re not going to learn a thing from those failures. You’re just going to conclude that the IPs are bad and unprofitable, rather than admitting that you screwed them up.
I’m going to get some sleep.