In June 2020, Disney released a movie version of Artemis Fowl on its streaming platform, Disney +. Even though the movie and the novel Artemis Fowl share the same name and they share the same group of characters, they have very different plots. For this reason, some fans of Artemis Fowl were disappointed with the movie when it was first released. In this section, you will see a list of the differences between the book and the movie as well as some areas where they are the same. WARNING: spoilers for the book and the movie ahead!
First, some background information on the movie. It was directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, a Northern Irish actor and director from Belfast. You might recognize him from some of his acting roles: he has appeared in a wide list of movies and has been nominated for five Oscars. Notably, he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn (2011). He was also nominated for Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Henry V (1989), which he directed and starred in. Branagh has worked with Disney in the past: he directed Disney's 2015 version of the widely-loved Cinderella.
The movie contains a widely-renowned group of actors and actresses from around the world. In the movie, Ferdia Shaw plays Artemis Fowl II (it was his first major role), Lara McDonnell plays Holly Short, Josh Gad plays Mulch Diggums (you might recognize him as the voice of Olaf from Frozen), Nonso Anozie plays Butler (you might recognize him as the Captain from Disney's 2015 version of Cinderella), Dame Judi Dench plays Commander Root (she is best known for playing M in the Daniel Craid Bond movies and won an Oscar in 1998 for Best Supporting Actress in Shakespeare in Love), and Collin Farrell plays Artemis Sr. (you might recognize him from The Lobster or In Bruges).
There are many differences between the story in the movies and the story in the novel. In particular, Artemis's mother, Angeline Fowl, has passed away before the beginning of the movie. Artemis lives alone with his father, Artemis Senior, at the beginning of the movie. They share a close relationship. Instead of finding the People by himself, Artemis Sr. is the one who introduces Artemis to the fairy world. At the beginning of the movie, he is about to depart on a trip and he goes missing as the movie progresses. Unlike the novel, Artemis feels it is his responsibility to save his father, and he spends much of the movie working together with Holly and the fairies to get him back. Mulch Diggums tells the story in the movie after he has been captured by unknown authorities. While Commander Root is a male in the books, in the film version the character is a woman played by the powerful Judi Dench. Finally, the largest difference between the novel Artemis Fowl and the movie Artemis Fowl is the fact that the fairies and the humans live in peace. Artemis does not try to exploit the fairy race; instead, he works together with Holly Short to save his father from peril.
Branagh received criticism over how much he changed the original Artemis Fowl storyline in order to adapt it into a movie. According to an interview with SlashFilm.com, he chose to make so many changes in an attempt to make Artemis more likable: "I was less interested in telling the story from the get-go, of a character who was marooned in a privileged life. I wanted us to find the humanity inside the character." When asked why he wanted to make Artemis into a hero rather than an anti-hero or villain, Branagh said it was because he believed that it would be hard for audiences to accept the fact that Artemis is a villain from the get-go. In response to whether he believes that fans of the book will be disappointed with this adaption, Branagh said: "it’s a misnomer to believe that you can get inside the individual heads of everybody who may have loved the book, and then provide them with what I think is a sort of bogus idea: the, as it were, 'definitive' version of the book. Because it’s always going to be different in everybody’s mind, even if they’re looking at exactly the same sentence, or the same character." He continued that he hopes that the impressions that you get from the first book, as well as the cast of characters which has stayed the same, will be enough to placate those viewers.
However, since the film's release, there has been a widely negative reception to Branagh's adaption of Artemis Fowl both from critical and independent viewers. It received a shocking 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Carla Hay from Culture Mix said that "'Artemis Fowl' is a mediocre mess of a film that clearly spent a lot of time on visual effects but not enough time in doing justice to the kind of storytelling that author Eoin Colfer has in his 'Artemis Fowl' books." Similarly, Jason Fraley from WTop News wrote: "If you read the books, you may find the filmmakers chopped out too much, according to online reader complaints. If you haven’t read the books, you’ll almost certainly find it chaotic, confusing and hard to follow, albeit with a few intermittent redeeming qualities."
Do you think that the movie is too different from the book to be enjoyable? Do you think that even if the movie differed, you still liked the story? It is up to you.