Adapting any popular series of books can be a tricky process, as the movie’s creative team has to walk a fine line between staying faithful to the source material and finding a way to squeeze as much of the story as possible into a single film (or, with luck, a franchise of films).
The latest trailer for Artemis Fowl suggests that Walt Disney Studios has opted to go another route with its adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s series of novels about a young boy who’s one of the world’s greatest criminal masterminds. If the preview is any indication of what to expect from the film (and it should be), the studio has thrown out that premise entirely in favor of a more traditional hero’s journey.
It’s a bold strategy, certainly, and it’s not likely to go over well with fans of the series.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh from a script penned by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl, Artemis Fowl follows the titular 12-year-old genius (played by Ferdia Shaw) as he attempts to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance — a mystery that draws him into conflict with an ancient world of magic and mystery that’s been hidden from humanity for generations. He’s accompanied on his quest to locate his father by Butler (Nonso Anozie), his constant companion and bodyguard.
Along with Shaw and Anozie, the film’s cast also features Josh Gad as Mulch Diggums, a rogue dwarf; Lara McDonnell as Holly Short, a fairy law-enforcement agent; and Judi Dench as Commander Root, Holly’s superior officer. Colin Farrell portrays Artemis’ father, Artemis Fowl I.
While Colfer’s novels introduced Artemis as a cold-hearted, calculating criminal who had been running the family’s massive criminal enterprises in his father’s absence, only to warm and grow more sympathetic as the series progressed, the film seems to suggest a more heroic starting point for Artemis’ evolution. The film will reportedly draw from both the first and second novels of Colfer’s eight-book saga for inspiration, which covered Artemis’ discovery of the world of fairies and other magical creatures and the rescue of his father from the Russian Mafia (with assistance from some fairy allies).
The eight novels of Colfer’s series followed Artemis’ evolution from an enemy to an ally of the magical underworld, and from a villain who occasionally finds himself on the side of heroes to a full-fledged hero with the best interests of his fellow human — and fairy — on his mind.
Artemis Fowl arrives in theaters on May 29.
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