Artemis Fowl is the title for a series of young adult books by Eion Colfer centered around the protagonist of the same name. In the first book Artemis, a 12-year-old Irish criminal mastermind and heir to a long-standing criminal legacy (yes, that is where we’re starting folks) learns that fairies are in fact real and living in a society underground. So, he decides to kidnap one and ransom her for gold. But the fairy he kidnaps is actually part of the high-tech fairy police force (you read that right), and the full might of the lower elements police reconnaissance (L.E.P Recon, get it?) comes down on him in an effort to get her back.
As you can imagine, I LOVED these books as a kid, with a fiery passion that my future partners can only hope to experience a fraction of.
So, when the teaser trailer for the new movie based on the first book dropped this week, I was dumbstruck. I won’t lie, I’m very easy to please in general, but seeing a childhood favourite book series of mine being brought to the big screen absolutely delighted me. And I was ready to sing this movies praises just from that, blissfully ignorant of any other context. I mean, sure there were a few things that didn’t quite track with me, but I didn’t mind all in all, I was feeling good about it.
Then I went on Tumblr.
Now I like to go on Tumblr and see other people’s thoughts and insights on things I enjoy. I was expecting glowing praise and perhaps some interesting guesses and theories. Boy, was I surprised by the outpouring of negativity I found. At first, I was willing to just brush it off, call it different strokes for different folks. But as I got into the substance of the complaints, I understood more and more.
It was around the time I saw that Dame Judi Dench had been cast as a gender-swap of the gruff, sexist police commander in from the books that I started to worry (but not that much because Dame Judi Dench). But then I saw that they’d cast a thirteen-year-old girl to play the fully-grown fairy cop Artemis kidnapped. That had me really leering at the whole production. But then I saw the casting description for Artemis. They described him as “warm-hearted” and “fun.”
Artemis Fowl is neither of those things. He is cold and calculating and has humour so dry it makes oceans thirsty. That was the last straw that really made me lose faith in this movie. Clearly, they don’t understand the books at all, and frankly, that baffles me. I mean, they have a popular story that’s already cinematic as hell, they don’t need to change things, certainly not this radically. It takes a lot to really put me off a movie like this, but they’ve managed it. I’m still going to go watch, hoping to high heaven that I’m wrong and the movie turns out actually good, but my belief that will be true is basically non-existent. If it does manage to be good, it’ll be a good movie that bares only a cursory resemblance to the books.
And you know, that’s almost worse in a way.
These companies take it upon themselves to adapt stories that mean a lot to people, and I know it sounds entitled, maybe even whiny, but I think they have a responsibility to show the IP they’re working with some respect. If they’re going to make an Artemis Fowl movie, make an Artemis Fowl movie, not its weird, embarrassing cousin you only see on Thanksgiving because they corner you and chatter in your ear all day.
It annoys me more and more in this era of remakes, that the companies holding this property don’t actually care about it, and consistently seem to think of these ideas as at least mildly embarrassing things that they can make palatable if they change it enough. They ignore the fact that the fact this product has potential to make money in the first place is that it probably has a loyal fanbase eager to see it translated to the big screen. Instead they just make things harder on themselves by tweaking perfectly good ideas into a form I won’t even call Frankensteininan, because Frankenstein’s monster was eloquent and thoughtful, which these adaptations so rarely are.
Therefore, I’m just going to put Artemis Fowl out of my mind until next year when I actually see the movie. At that time, I’ll hope against hope that somewhere along the lines, someone actually managed to right the course.
Maybe I’ll kidnap a fairy and see if they’ll grant it to me as a wish.
Anything is worth a try, I say.
Sophie is fanning her wings on Twitter.