Disney released its live-action adaptation of Eoin Colfer's best-selling book series Artemis Fowl on its digital platform recently, and the reviews are far from kind. The Rotten Tomatoes score for the film has been decreasing steadily since its premiere, and currently stands at 13% critics rating and 40% audience rating. Bad news for anyone hoping to see the movie kickstart a new franchise centering around the titular boy genius.
MovieWeb's own Julian Roman consideres that the movie "has a high production value, but fails to captivate in any meaningful way. The characters are clunky, poorly written, and devoid of chemistry."
Similarly, Kevin Crust from the Los Angeles Times believes that "Anyone looking for entertaining young-adult fantasy adventure might as well move along. There's nothing to see here." While Adam Graham from Detroit News writes "Kenneth Branagh directs and gives the film a crisp look but can't make heads or tails of what's going on; there are Shakespeare monologues easier to digest than this convoluted story."
Fans had been hoping for a better showing from a movie based on a book series that has often been described as 'Harry Potter with Hi-tech Fairies'. The Artemis Fowl novels follow the adventures of 12-year old Artemis, a young criminal genius who discovers the existence of an underground city of futuristic fairies, and plots to rob them of their gold.
Unfortunately, Disney took this simple but intriguing premise with a main character who starts as an out-and-out villain before gradually turning into an anti-hero, and turned it into a generic action-adventure where Artemis's war with the fairy kingdom is a result of wanting to rescue his family.
It seems even Disney was aware that the movie was lacking in many ways, which is why it was one of the first features that were announced to be removed from a theatrical release lineup and released directly on Disney+. Studios have realized that audiences are a lot more forgiving of badly made movies when they can watch them at home instead of having to go to the theaters. So Artemis Fowl may very well end up being a success for Disney+ despite the poor reviews.
There is a section of the fandom that will blame the movie's quality on the liberties it took from the source material. Aside from changing Artemis's personal motivations, the film also changed the character of Commander Root from male to female, and changed Artemis's father from a mob boss to a protector of humanity.
While the film's director Kenneth Branagh has stated that he made these changes to the story in order to present audiences with a more sympathetic view of Artemis and his journey, the result seems to have been largely pedestrian. Then there is the Disney brand itself, which would have almost required Artemis to go from his original characterization as a bond villain in training to being the unequivocal hero and good guy of the film. Looks like fans of Colfer's books will have to wait a while longer for an authentic movie adaptation. You can check out the ever evolving rotten score over at Rotten Tomatoes.