Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Artemis Fowl fails several fundamental requirements of being a movie

We recently watched the Artemis Fowl movie to vet it for our six-year-old. We didn’t think it would be inappropriate. We just weren’t sure if it would be something he’d enjoy. And we are glad we did because it is a really awful movie.

I am a reader first and foremost but I try very hard not to be one of those people who automatically say the book is better. Movies can be better. (The 1939 film version of the Wizard of Oz is not just better than the book, it is the definitive version of the work. Fight me.) Movies are allowed to be completely different than the book. A ‘name only’ movie version is just fine AS LONG AS IT STILL WORKS AS ENTERTAINMENT!

I’m actually not that big a fan of the Artemis Fowl books. I read the first couple when they came out (Wow, almost twenty years ago!?) and thought they were okay. Honestly, they struck me as kind of juvenile in the sense that the adults and adult-equivalents seemed dumb and incompetent and merciful so Artemis could seem smart and not get killed before halfway through the first book. (I recently read the first book in the Fun Jungle series and was surprised that that was not the case) They were amusing fluff but no Harry Potter.

So I wouldn’t have minded that the powers that be changed Artemis from an amoral and genuine criminal who slowly develops a moral compass to a bland hero if the movie would have made any sense. But the plot does not make any sense.

I don’t want to give away spoilers (beyond DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE) but the framing device doesn’t make any sense, either from a story or a world building structure. Among other things, Artemis’s master plan hinges on LEPRECHAUN doing several incredibly specific things and someone very specific walking down just the right hall, when not even Artemis knows which hall that is. The fairy technology acts completely differently depending on what the drama needs. (I refuse to sully the word plot using it) And the end resolution that is supposed to solve most of the ongoing problems shouldn’t solve most of them.

And that’s not going into character development which is relentlessly told, never shown.

The only thing I can say for the movie is Josh Gad and Dame Judi Dench were fun to watch and that should go without saying so it doesn’t really count.

The movie I found myself comparing Artemis Fowl to was, of all things, Constantine. I felt that Keanu Reeves did not resemble to John Constantine that Jamie Delaney and Garth Ennis introduces me to (I bought issues 40 and 41 at the same time, boy was that the start of a wild ride) and the movie is meh. But it makes enough sense to make it watchable! (Mostly by using Garth Ennis’s Dangerous Habits storyline wholesale)

Like I said, I try not to be a purist. A movie can change things. Sometimes, it should change things. But, first and foremost, it has to be a good movie.

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