I realize that I should probably be reading more books, and perhaps I could have saved this commentary for Speculative Fiction Friday. Still, I have been meaning to read the Artemis Fowl series after I reviewed author Eoin Colfer’s the W.A.R.P. series, Book 1: The Reluctant Assassin.
Artemis Fowl came out in 2001, when the first Harry Potter movie came out. Thanks to the popularity of J.K. Rowling’s books on Wizards, the Artemis Fowl series got very popular. In spite of how it sounds, these series are similar yet quite different. There are eight books in the series, and it came to an end in 2012. The series is by Hyperion/Disney Press, and there has been a lot of talk of a film version of this literary franchise. If Disney owns the rights to this, I don’t see why we haven’t seen multiple Artemis Fowl stories come to the big screen.
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, it has a premise that is very, very good. The first book present a world where fairy tale races like elves, dwarves, and fairies are real, but have deliberately chosen to stay hidden from the human world for reasons of their own. These fantasy races live underneath the earth, and they have access to more advanced technology as well as a little bit of magic.
Artemis Fowl is a 13-year-old who is the son of a criminal mastermind, and definitely wants to be one when he grows up. As a master planner, he figures out how to kidnap a fairy (specifically a leprechaun). Most of the book is told from Fowl’s view as well as the force of fantasy figures trying to stop him.
The characters are good, the action is solid, and the world that is created feels both original and familiar all at the same time. Artemis Fowl is like a James Bond villain discovering a world like Men in Black with a situation that feels like Die Hard. Even though it was probably targeted toward younger readers, I, as an adult, enjoyed it thoroughly.
I might tick off a lot of people with my opinion, but I just don’t think that Artemis Fowl should be a movie. Granted, I have only read the first book, so this doesn’t exactly make me a true Fowlian, or whatever they call big fans of Artemis Fowl books. I have stated before that I believe that things that created in a certain medium (books, movies/TV, and video games) should be content to stay in that medium. I believe that Artemis Fowl should stay as books, on a few conditions.
1) Since Artemis Fowl has eight books, this means eight films. Remember the problems with the Harry Potter actors growing up? Artemis Fowl books could be adapted one book at a time into films, and if they were successes, why not? However, Hollywood really needs some fresh ideas to put to film that aren’t based on franchises. I’ve heard of Hollywood committing to two or three movies in a series, but not eight. I don’t think Harry Potter had that plan.
2) The dwarf. The Artemis Fowl series is able to take conventions of fantasy and put some interesting twists on them. One of them is a dwarf named Mulch, and the first book informs that dwarves can dig through the ground by eating it and then spewing it out the…other end. I honestly don’t want to see a film where this is seen. Yes, this is a nitpick, but if were to tell me that a certain scene in the book with the dwarf spewing stuff from his…I wouldn’t want to see it.
3) The actor playing Artemis Fowl. As I said before, Artemis is a 13-year-old pretending to be a mastermind. It was hard to imagine this, even though 13-year-olds can be pretty conniving. The entire film would hinge on the performance of this lead actor, and I don’t think it could work. It could be Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace all over again.
4) The effects might not work. There is a lot of criticism on the Internet about using computer-generated effects over practical effects. CG makes a lot of interesting creatures and backgrounds, but it is a trick that we are so used to that it comes off as fake now. I feel like as a viewer, I would want to see the fantasy races in makeup rather than creatures like Dobby or Gollum, but I get the feeling it would be cheaper to do it with CG, and an Artemis Fowl movie would take full advantage of that. Wouldn’t it be good if it used some practical effects?
So there it is. I say just read the Artemis Fowl books and if they make a movie, see it if you can for free.