Artemis Fowl, the movie

Artemis Fowl

I read the first Artemis Fowl book years ago, and found it refreshing. The movie… not so much, to put it mildly. Let’s have a look.

The Plot

Artemis Fowl is a young criminal mastermind who — with the aid of his personal assistant Butler — hatches a complicated plan to steal money from fairies to help his mother who became mentally unstable when his father vanished.

Oh, wait, that was the plot from the books

Artemis Fowl is a young genius, who is thrown into an adventure involving fairies, when an evil creature called Opal kidnaps his father, and tasks him with finding something called the Aculos. His father always told Artemis fairies were real, but though Artemis worshiped his father, he never believed him. His mother is dead.

Yes, those two plots are quite different. And personally, I feel the movie plot isn’t an improvement. This new plot lacks the originality of the original.

The characters

Artemis Fowl is a young genius, who uses his mental prowess to outsmart the fairies. If you look at the book, Artemis starts out as a criminal, and slowly grows into a good person. In the movie, they’ve reversed this arc. Artemis is a difficult child who only trusts his father (except, apparently, when he starts talking about fairies). At least, that’s what the movie suggests. Except he also trusts Domovoi — because in the movie you can’t call Butler ‘Butler’ — and his niece, and for inexplicable reasons, Holly Short. Also, the ‘difficulty’ is one scene where Artemis walks out on a psychiatrist.

Holly Short is a fairy. In the books, she has to recharge her magic by planting an acorn from an ancient oak near a river bend and Artemis kidnaps her for ransom. They slowly grow closer together and she helps him cure his mother. However, in the movie, she’s trying to clear her father’s name, who died after stealing the Aculos. Quite the different character as well, and with a completely different dynamic to Artemis. Well, that should be the case, but the writers kind of fuddled that.

Collin Farrell, who is a fine actor except I always thinks he looks like he has to poop, plays Artemis’s father. He talks about fairies and hangs from chains in a creepy cave. He doesn’t do very much, really, but has been needlessly vague towards Artemis and even in his own journal.

That finally leaves Mulch Diggums. He’s a fun and interesting character in the books. In the movie… well, he’s the narrator. And he inexplicably swears fealty to Artemis somewhere halfway through the movie. I guess he’s supposed to be the funny character who lightens the mood?


When you take the characters of a book apart and put them back together differently, and rewrite most of the plot, well, you’re really only left with the trappings of the original story. And possibly some writing smells.

Yes, Artemis Fowl the movie features a time field, and it has a fight with a troll, and Artemis takes Holly Short hostage. However, while those actions are in the movie, they are in a completely different context, and for a different reason.

Unfortunately, a scene is never cool because of what happens, but because of that context. For an example: picture the scene in Empire Strikes back where Darth Vader reveals the truth to Luke, but now picture it without seeing anything else from Star Wars. Just some people fighting, then one of them cutting off the other’s hand and shouting ‘I am…’ well, you know the rest. That scene would suck… as was in fact the case in The Rise of Skywalker.

Just taking the trappings of the Artemis Fowl books and using them in a different context has made them confusing and dull.

In short: the movie is a boring mess that ditched everything that made the books good.


The Artemis Fowl movie sucks. It’s lazy writing, unoriginal and not even exciting. Really, go read the books, if you haven’t already.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands