Artemis Fowl is easily one of the worst book adaptations of all time. It’s right up there with botched adaptations like Dragonball: Evolution or The Last Airbender. I never read the children’s book series by Irish author Eoin Colfer, but even I knew what the fundamental problem was. Artemis Fowl is supposed to be the villain of the story! Artemis Fowl is described as “Die Hard with fairies” and the 12 year old genius criminal mastermind is supposed to be the Hans Gruber of the story. Disney basically said, “We can’t have a mean old villain as the main character.” So they instead turned Artemis Fowl into a stiff stock smart kid in a suit with redeemable motives. I knew about Artemis Fowl for a long time since the book was advertised on my Spy Kids VHS tape. I always expected an adaptation, but it looked ridiculous the moment I saw the trailer. The 2019 release date being pushed back to 2020 didn’t inspire much confidence.
I was expecting a colossal box-office bomb, but Disney got lucky by releasing it on Disney+ during the pandemic. Artemis Fowl bares an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes and is every bit the boring, lackluster, confusing, mess it appears to be. Instead of kidnapping a fairy for a ransom of gold, Artemis just wants to find his father. He was kidnapped by the incredibly pointless villain Opal Koboi. Even as a basic adventure fantasy science fiction story, Artemis Fowl fails. All they do is deliver never ending exposition and tell you how to feel at all times. Gold is replaced by some random McGuffin not present in the book. The underground Haven City world of fairies, dwarves, trolls, and centaurs is so dull you’d hardly believe this was directed by Kenneth Branagh. Fairies wear green and have pointy ears, but I swear they’re not elves. They’re also Irish and work for a police force called LEPrecon, but I swear they’re not leprechauns.
Holly Short is the kidnapped fairy who’s supposed to be the protagonist, but she’s instead relegated to co-lead. The unknown child actors are lousy and they roped several major celebrities into this travesty. Dame Judi Dench talks with a bizarre gravelly voice, Colin Farrell is wasted, and don’t get me started on Josh Gad. He plays the giant dwarf Mulch Diggums a little too close to the book as he unhinges his jaw with freakish CGI and dirt shoots out of his butt. Fowl’s intimidating bodyguard Butler is strangely race changed and his niece is just kinda there. Just about everything takes place in the Fowl Manor during a painfully generic time stopping fairy house raid. Artemis and Holly become fast friends and the movie ends with Artemis calling himself a criminal mastermind despite never earning that title. Artemis Fowl is the disaster you get when you purposefully anger longtime fans and give general audiences no reason to care.