Fans of the fantasy novel saga of Eoin colfer they have been waiting for him for almost two decades and last June 12th he finally landed on the Disney + platform. As you may have understood from the title, today we are talking about Artemis Fowl and the film dedicated to the little criminal genius.
SPOILER ALERT: in this article They will be present plot spoiler and, inevitably, a comparison will be made with the books. If you would like to retrieve them or watch the film in the dark, I recommend closing the article. And to go gardening instead of looking at it.
Artemis Fowl Jr. is a XNUMX-year-old Irishman with an extraordinary intelligence, which leads him to excel in school and to be arrogant towards authority. Orphan of a mother, he lives with Domovoi Leale (the faithful bodyguard) and his granddaughter Juliet. His father, collector and art dealer often absent due to frequent travel, instilled a passion for Irish legends in the world of Fairies in Artemis. The boy always believed they were myths without foundation, until the father is kidnapped and the young scion is given three days to recover the Aculos, a precious magical artifact to be delivered as a ransom.
Artemis' plan to gain possession of the object includes the abduction of an elf, the intervention of a gigantic dwarf digger, a temporal stasis and a fight with a troll, to which must be added a touch of magical teleportation and a dusting of healing powers.
If the synopsis seems a little terse and simplistic, you haven't seen the film yet.
If so, you are still in time to consider the gardening option and to take advantage of the last few days suitable for sowing carrots. What are you waiting for?
PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF ARTEMIS FOWL
We are certainly faced with a title with a troubled history, this must be recognized although it does not constitute a justification for such a massacre.
In the home library there is a copy of the first edition of the first book, dated September 2001.
On the back cover it reads "The Miramax producer has purchased the film rights and is preparing to turn it into a film". To give you an idea of how much things have changed since 2001, Miramax has had time to stop being a Disney subsidiary and one of its founders, Harvey Weinstein, was sentenced to serve 23 years in prison. In the meantime, the literary saga dedicated to the little criminal genius has come to an end, with the publication of the Italian edition of The Last Guardian
The completion of the screenplay had been announced by Colfer himself in 2003 but it was not known for many years, apart from a few rumour the presumed identity of the director and the participation of Saoirse Ronan in the role of Spinella Tappo.
In 2013 it was announced that the film would be based on the first two novels and would be produced by Disney and the Weinstein Company. At the same time they were indicated Michael Goldenberg as a screenwriter and the duo Robert De Niro/Jane Rosenthal to production.
In 2015 Kenneth Branagh is finally commissioned to take care of the direction of the film and the script is entrusted to the Irish playwright Conor McPherson, with Judy Hofflund as executive producer. Filming began in 2017 and took place between England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Vietnam.
The release of the film was initially scheduled for August 9, 2019 but, in May of the same year, it is postponed to May 29, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, distribution has been diverted to the Disney + platform.
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
Artemis Fowl Jr. (Ferdia Shaw): young scion of a wealthy Irish family, he is described as brilliant and much more intelligent than the average. According to what emerges from the film, he dedicates his free time to sports, reading and studying the Irish legends that interest his father so much. The actor is in his first role on the big screen and, unfortunately, he seems in difficulty.
Spinella Stopper (Lara McDonnell): 84 year old young elf, he is an enterprising Captain of the LEP (Free Heroic Police) and carries the weight of his father's reputation. Belfaggio Tappo, in fact, is accused of having betrayed the Small People and of stealing the Aculos, losing his life in the enterprise without the artifact being later found.
Domovoi Loyal (Nonso Anozie): bodyguard of the Fowl family, takes care of Artemis when the father is absent and launches with the boy even in this bizarre adventure. In the film he appears as thoughtful and emotional, however much he tries to limit his tender side.
Earthwork Bomb (Josh Gad): giant dwarf in the service of the Fowl, theoretically works as an informant for the LEP but from the film this detail is difficult to clearly frame. We only know about him that he feels excluded from the other dwarves because of his extraordinary height and that he is on good terms with Captain Cap and the Commander Tuber. In fact, relationships a little too good to be a repeat thief.
Tuber Commander (Judi Dench): burbera elf over 800 years old, he heads the LEP and is the direct superior of Spinella. Despite Belfaggio's reputation as a dirty reputation for the Tappo family, Tubero is willing to trust Spinella and assign her important roles, as in the case of the troll posted at the wedding in Italy.
Artemis Fowl Sr. (Colin Farrell): collector and art dealer, he made himself responsible for the theft of archaeological finds and precious relics in order to preserve peace between the world of the Muddy (non-magical) and that of the Fairies. As can be seen from the plot, this protective role seems to pass from father to son in the Fowl family for generations. Although he is often absent for work, he shows affectionate towards his son and does not take him with him so as not to endanger him. He tells his son about Irish legends to prepare him for the day when he will have to find out the truth and take his place.
Juliet Loyal (Tamara smart): Domovoi's grandson, he is the same age as Artemis and his uncle's passion for kendo. In the books she is Dom's younger sister, she is 16 years old and is the bodyguard of Mrs. Fowl, alive and well.
Opal Koboi (uncredited): antagonist of the story and kidnapper of Artemis I, wants to take over the Aculos for personal purposes not better specified. Theoretically it should have been interpreted by Hong Chau but her scenes have been cut, although she appears in the film's first trailer.
As usual, I start by telling what I liked about a product, and then move on to what made my nose turn up. In this case, more than anything else, I hope to convince myself of the existence of something that is worth saving or that compensates the questionable choices made by the production.
First of all, the beauty of costumes and prosthetic make-up must be recognized. Although they are not particularly elaborate and maintain a somewhat theatrical feeling, these elements are certainly a merit of the technical sector.
Then the visual impact returned by the reconstruction of Cantuccio, the capital of the underground world, is not so bad. On a photography level, the film works quite well and without major failures. The direction is not bad, as long as the camera movements and the shots are considered, but it becomes a disaster when you hold against the responsibility for the final success of the title.
The adaptation of the names is accurate and respects that of the Italian translation of the novels, without particular distortions. Exception made, of course, for Belfaggio Tappo: in the books, he simply does not have a name and does not participate in the plot.
Furthermore, it is impossible not to appreciate the choice to distribute the film only on the Disney + platform, avoiding viewers from having to pay the cinema ticket for such a disgrace. With a budget of $ 125 million, something more would have been expected.
Finally, note of merit goes to the soundtrack. I puzzled for hours in an attempt to find a virtuous detail, without ifs and buts. He has come to save me Patrick Doyle, Scottish composer who often works hand in hand with Branagh and whom the general public was able to appreciate thanks to the music of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In a delicate balance between Irish tradition, typically fantasy sounds and an epic touch, Pat managed to do the miracle. The only one, unfortunately.
I start slowly, with "minor" problems, to avoid overloading my coronaries and start shooting smoke from the ears after the first two lines. Nonetheless, prepare for a long one rant, uh ... a careful examination of the flaws of Artemis Fowl.
First of all, the CGI is a bit of a dancer: it holds up well when it comes to settings, occasionally wobbles with creatures and crashes to the ground when it has to deal with Bombarda's jaw. Understandable the choice to make it unnatural but the yield of the jaw really out of tune with the rest of the character, especially in some scenes.
The translation of some lines, if possible, further worsens the already poor one verve of the original dialogues. One example above all is the Loyal / Butler issue. It is not known for what reason but it has been chosen to underline that Leale wants to be called only by name, therefore Domovoi or Dom. In Italian it is specified that he reacts badly to the name "butler" but the play on words is completely lost with " Butler ”, original surname that translates just like“ butler ”.
It should be noted that, in the books, the Academy is expressly prohibited from making its name known to employers. Loyal, in fact, reveals it to Artemis only at the point of death, in an intense and touching moment that binds the two in an indissoluble way. But no, it made more sense to talk about martial arts.
Another thing that is out of place are two wedding guests who, in their original language, speak Italian with a very marked English accent. It was necessary to dub them, to avoid the problem.
CHANGES COMPARED TO THE TRAILER
As if the inconsistencies due to the translation were not enough, it is also necessary to accept the discrepancies between the trailer and the actual film. Some characters have totally disappeared, despite having been officially included in the cast: for example, two actresses shot scenes in the role of Angelique Fowl (mother of Artemis) before it was eliminated in the final version of the film. An actor in the role of Belfaggio Tappo seems to have been part of the cast.
To be distorted compared to the first teaser trailer it is also the mood of its own. general of the work, which goes from dark to cheerful spy story for kids both in the themes and in the visual rendering. The abandonment of the atmosphere dark it has been progressive with the change in production and has also involved the soundtrack. In first teaser trailer of 2018 you could hear the beautiful but gloomy background Dark decks of Radiohead. In official trailer last March, however, the much lighter one was chosen Start It Up Campfire The numerous complaints of the fandom under the first trailer were useless, given the results of the finished product in terms of plot.
The film is extremely didactic, it is useless to go around it. Artemis is brilliant because he is described as such but not because he does particularly brilliant things. Basically, we know about his family history and his alleged emotional difficulties only because they are explicitly told to us by the school psychologist. And that's how the viewer spends the first 5/6 minutes listening to Bombarda presenting the characters and the events. Unfortunately it must be admitted that Artemis Fowl it is so inconsistent as to require such a superstructure but the narrating voice further burdens an already tragic situation. In short, a deadly boredom.
In the same way, it is not clear why the peace of the people is threatened by the disappearance of the Aculos and it is necessary to go beyond half the film to understand that it is able to open portals. We only find out thanks to a conversation between Artemis and Spinella, in which she mentions the thing in the sprint.
To further reveal the problem is the fact that Artemis announces what he is about to do, from "I will need the dress" to "I have to make a phone call". Last but not least, “I am Artemis Fowl, a criminal genius”. Tremendous.
RHYTHM AND PLOT
On this point, I almost seem to be shooting on the Red Cross but there is an obvious problem with pacing. Because of the "cut and sew" carried out by the assembly department, in fact, the result is a very rapid cascade of confusing events and details whose meaning is not understood, embedded in an already inconsistent plot. If I hadn't read the books, I would have struggled a lot to follow some logical jumps or explain elements like the Charm (magical gaze that causes a sort of hypnosis). The same thing goes for theCallInstead of being necessary to enter a Muddy's house without losing power, it becomes an obligation of obedience and a prison sentence. Because? It is not known.
Thinking that it could be my prejudice, I asked my sister to lend herself as a guinea pig and watch the film with me, despite never having leafed through half the pages of the novels. That's right, I self-inflicted a second vision for the sake of the review. His comment was: "But of course there is the open ending! In an hour they did nothing and a club was not understood."
To all this is added a plot that defining banal would deserve a prize for the euphemism of the year. Already after the first 10 minutes it is clear that history is inevitably destined to resolve itself in the best way but this is, perhaps, the least of the evils; even small gestures are predictable to the millimeter, to the point that my sister started saying "Don't drop the milk, don't drop the milk!”As soon as Artemis crossed the threshold of the room while the news of the disappearance of her father was broadcast on TV.
MI6 OF AMATEURS
When Bombarda is evaded, he is in custody on the MI6 Interrogator Unit, at the mouth of the Thames. Not only is the platform opened as if it were a can of tuna without anyone shooting or intervening, but there is not even a half agent who dreams, I know ... of chasing them! Never be.
And we fly over Spinella that flies next to the Fowl helicopter without having activated the screen, thus making itself visible to any Muddy looking upwards while flying. Fantastic.
The bulk of the film's problems, however, is found in the adaptation of the original story, to which justice has not been done. Had it been advertised immediately as a saga-inspired product, it would have had a different impact. Here, however, we are presented with what would like to be a film transposition and end up in an ink bath, massacring the novels without mercy. Let's see them one at a time.
ARTEMIS IS NOT ARTEMIS
The Artemis we met in the early books is fascinating, cynical and ingenious, willing to bypass everything and everyone in order to achieve their goals. Here we are faced with a pale imitation of that character, reduced to a rich and spoiled boy who turns in jeans and a T-shirt. In my opinion, it is really a shame to have distorted it to the point of flattening and trivializing it to the point of making it, in fact, a frightened and emotional teenager, at the mercy of events.
Since the English pronunciation remains the same, it would have been more honest to change the surname of the protagonist to Foul (= foul) and extract a nice red card, with direct expulsion in the stratosphere.
Not to mention the relationship between Artemis and his father: the choice to make a sort of mash-up between the first two novels, the dimension of the story and the evolution of the dynamics between the two are completely lost. Artemis Sr. should be selfish, unscrupulous and greedy, to the point of having handed down the family motto to his son: "Aurum potestas est", That is" Gold is power ". Other than reciting the Irish blessing as a goodnight before leaving!
Artemis Fowl Sr. should not have been there. Disappeared in Russia in mysterious circumstances, he leaves behind a son who follows in his footsteps and a deeply depressed wife, destroyed by pain. The battle that the young scion wages against the People is completely personal and utilitarian: to kidnap a fairy to ask for gold in return and to replenish the family's coffers, so that she can then search for her father. But no, here Artemis is basically a golden retriever puppy who stays at home alone while Daddy goes to work.
SPINELLA IS NOT SPINELLA
Spinella Tappo is no longer the first woman to join the LEP.
"So what?" You say. So everything changes. An important part of the characterization of Captain Tappo, in fact, lies precisely in the difficulties he had to face in order to make a career in a male-dominated environment such as that of the Police. Still very current topic, that of the works considered "for men" or "for women" and the opportunity to give value to the topic was missed.
Let's also add that Spinella is definitely too white (see paragraph on ethnicity changes) and too high compared to the 99cm provided by the novels.
As if that were not enough, the relationship between Spinella and Artemis has accelerated so much that it is almost ridiculous. The two have known each other for a day and not only trust each other, but declare themselves "friends forever" complete with a handshake. Incommentabile.
But we come to the most drastic changes, which have sparked the perplexity of the fans since the release of the first trailer.
DELETERIE PINK FEES
Commander Julius Tubero is played by Judi Dench. Now, without taking anything away from the extraordinary talent of an actress of her caliber, the choice to change genre to the Commander is precisely what cancels the story of Spinella in a snap of your fingers. It was necessary? In my opinion, no. Is it interesting? In no way.
It seems that the production asked Eoin Colfer directly to be able to make this change and that he replied "Let's do it!”, According to the director himself. However incomprehensible the choice may be, if nothing else it seems to have been consensual and enthusiastic.
To this are added the numerous female agents employed by LEP, which confirm that their presence in the police force is perfectly normal (understood as a statistical standard). And many dear greetings to the discrimination suffered by Spinella.
CHANGES OF ETHNIA
Domovoi Leale is black. "An Eurasian who touches two meters", as he is described several times in novels, becomes an African American with white hair and ice-colored eyes. Because? It is not known but it smells of hypocrisy a kilometer away.
It is not easy to express such an opinion in a delicate moment like the present one, yet I do not think it is the best way to promote inclusiveness. If you want to give dignity and space to ethnic representation or that queer, I think it is right to create characters and following the best practicesinstead of taking some already known and distorting them. This is not so much not to upset the fans of the original saga, but to stop "feeding" the minorities with the leftovers from previous productions.
Why settle for a princess Ariel black or coming out Dumbledore's posthumous? Why not churn out new characters, fresh and written specifically for the film? Whether it's lack of creativity or laziness, it doesn't matter: the risk is to pass on the message that a part of society is not worthy of commitment and recognition by the authors. You want to insert a character queer or black? Very well, write it.
Moreover, in the novels Spinella is described with "the walnut colored skin".
Now, have you ever seen the walnut color? Spoiler: definitely not white.
So why do whitewashing to the female protagonist and relegate the "people of colour”To secondary characters, employed by the Fowl? Can we really talk about representation when the role goes from supporting actor to subordinate? As if that wasn't enough, Juliet Leale is presented by her uncle as Artemis' shoulder and then disappears almost completely: her maximum contribution is to prepare a sandwich while he elaborates a plan. But they provided the actress with a thick blond hair, to respect the description of the book, that yes. Paradoxical.
CURIOSITY / EASTER EGG IN ARTEMIS FOWL
Kenneth Branagh appears to have personally accompanied Ferdia Shaw to Artemis' room to show the young actor the books on the shelves. During the preparation of the set, in fact, all the books that Shaw had mentioned were placed on the shelves. Likewise, there are those who swear they glimpsed a LEGO Death Star in young Fowl's room, just to follow Shaw's passion for the Star Wars saga.
These are appreciable details, small precautions by the director who do not in the least compensate for the long series of questionable choices and the chasms of the script, but which I hope will improve morale.
If even Kenneth Branagh, famous for playing cameos in the films he directs, didn't want to put his face on it ... something will mean.
Artemis Fowl it is the even less than mediocre transposition of an interesting and undervalued literary saga for children. For those who have not read the books, the film is confusing and, at times, incomprehensible. Those who have read them, however, are faced with an hour and a half of bitter disappointments.
In short, one wonders what the target audience expected for this film was, especially considering that it has a 12+ restriction. The result is a sort of battered child of Spy Kids e Men in Black, with Percy Jackson ed Eragon to act as godmothers and a drunken troll to take care of the assembly.
In an interview in 2001, Eoin Colfer had called it "Die Hard but with fairies. "
As it seems trash as an idea, it would have been a far better cinematic transposition.
[DISCLAIMER: no little sisters have been mistreated for the writing of this review, if watching the film is excluded from torture.]