Artemis Fowl: 4 Ways To Make The Film Franchise Worthwhile
The film adaptation of the mildly popular series Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, has been in development hell since way back in 2003. Since then, the series has expanded to eight books and even got a few graphic novel adaptations. Thanks to Disney and producer Robert De Niro, the twelve-year-old criminal mastermind might be making his way to the silver screen in the next few years. A fun series about a pre teen criminal mastermind and his quest for fairy gold seems like a fun family film. While Artemis was initially intended for children, the books got darker and more complex just like its protagonist.
If Disney plays their card rights they could have a major franchise on their hands. Could being the key word here. These days film franchises, young adult film franchises in particular, crowd our theaters. Many attempts at franchises have failed due to taking too much from other franchises in hopes of replicating their success. Others have failed due to copying too much from the source material. But how can avoid these clichés? Listen up Artemis producers, I’ll tell you how!
4. Eliminate Fillers
Far from a perfect series, Artemis Fowl sometimes suffers from lack of focus. It becomes clear, particularly in the first book, that Colfer did not have a set plan for the series. Maybe he didn’t know if it would sell or maybe he just didn’t think it all the way through. But whatever the reason some books seem like a filler and not a continuation of the story. For example, Artemis doesn’t really begin to change until the third book, The Eternity Code. Likewise the fourth book, The Opal Deception, delays his change even further. A film adaptation could easily remedy this. The overall arc of the series is Artemis gaining a conscience and little by little discovering friends and family are far more important than gold. And it becomes clear that is greatest enemy is none other than himself. In the last few books, the guilt of his past crimes begins to haunt him, literally.
It becomes obvious that the only way for him to rid of his guilt is for him to start all over again. Unfortunately, this isn’t addressed until the last book, The Last Guardian. With this arc in mind producers and writers could easily cut story lines that are merely cushion and do little to service the characters. The first two books of the series, Artemis Fowl and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, could easily fit in one film. Artemis’s first adventure sets up the world and the characters but does not fully set the bar for the rest of the series. It’s a fun story, but it lacks the substance we really need for us to care about these characters. The Arctic Incident introduces a primary antagonist and gets Artemis in on the action.
In the first book Artemis is introduced as the villain. Although the title character, he is the one causing the problems for everyone. It starts with twelve-year-old Artemis and his bodyguard/butler/friend Domovoi Butler searching for and later interrogating a pixie. The pixie gives Artemis the blueprint to find and later kidnap one the fairy people. Artemis’s goal is simple kidnap a fairy, hold it for it ransom, and get a substantial amount of gold to keep his family’s criminal empire a float. He also wishes to find his father who went missing in the Arctic. With his father gone and his mother bedridden with grief, Artemis is a lonely child. And with a mind as brilliant as his what’s left to do but scheme?
When his scheme comes to fruition he kidnaps Captain Holly Short, an elf and member of the Lower Elements Reconnaissance Squad (LEPrecon.) Holly tries to outwit the criminal mastermind, while her fellow officers back home and a kleptomaniac dwarf named Mulch Diggums try to get her out. The book ends with Artemis’s mother cured by fairy magic and Holly safely returned home. Artemis does get his hands on some gold but nearly at the cost Butler’s life. Any other boy would give up a life of crime but not Artemis.
The Arctic Incident reunites Holly, Artemis, and Butler and three of them forge a reluctant friendship. While Holly, despite her dislike for the boy, finds herself chaperoning Artemis on a trip to find his father, a goblin rebellion occurs back home which Holly believes Artemis is responsible for. This book introduces the primary antagonist Opal Koboi a pixie with a mind to rival Artemis’s own. Mulch Diggums even makes an appearance. This time around Artemis emerges as hero or rather anti-hero. With this as the ending to the first film we have established a world, established a villain, and started Artemis on the track to being a hero.
3. No Need for a Love Story
Everyone loves a good a love story but is a love story always necessary? In Artemis Fowl the only necessary love story is the one between Artemis’s parents. As their love and dedication to one another is something Artemis admires.For most of the series there is no real romance. Even when Artemis is old enough to think about romance it’s not something he concerns himself with. In the sixth book, The Time Paradox, there is a bit of romantic tension between Artemis and Holly. They kissed but that was about it, and for good reason. Holly is an adult and the only reason that kiss was acceptable was they had gone back in time and Holly had become fifteen again, the same age Artemis was then. By the end of the book, when they are back in the present, they resolve to put the kiss behind them and forget about it.
In book five, The Lost Colony, there is a possibility of romance between Artemis and human girl named Minerva who share his intellect. But she never appears again and was more of enemy than a love interest. For Colfer, romantic love is not always necessary to tell a good story. And in any case, Artemis has much bigger things to worry about than rather or not the pretty elf girl likes him.
The major conflict Artemis is powerless against is his guilt over what’s he’s done. He slowly begins to realize that his criminal activities only serve him and manages to get the people he loves hurt. Finding a way to reconcile his past self and his current self is far more interesting than any love triangle. Thankfully, Colfer seems to agree and spends the majority of the series trying to get Artemis realize his heroic potential. A love story could overwhelm these aspects of the character and that would not service the character at all.
2. Think Animation
Fantasy films are always striking visually and Artemis Fowl should be no different. If the film were live action it would be striking for sure but the animation medium could give so much more. The graphic novel adaptations gave us an idea of what it might look like. Drawn by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna, Artemis and his cohorts are drawn in over top but gorgeous manner. Holly and other fairies have an other worldly look about them. But they don’t look so outlandish that you can’t imagine them in the human world. Artemis looks like young a Bond villain with his slicked back hair and expensive suit. And Butler looks intimidating but lovable. All these characters would look darn good in animated feature. But if there one was character that is ripe for animation it would be Mulch Diggums.
Diggums is a dwarf with a unique skill set. In Artemis‘ world dwarves have enormous jaws good for burrowing into the earth and use flatulence to propel themselves through the earth. In a live action situation this would be off-putting. In an animated setting this could be seen as humorous and less disgusting. But perhaps the best reason to go the animation route would be for humor purposes.
If there is one thing you are guaranteed when reading a novel by Colfer, is you’ll be chuckling through it. Part of the humor comes from the wise cracking dialogue and the other comes from his witty description. In a visual medium, description is unnecessary as everything is already right there in front of us. So we would lose some of the humor there. But through animation, we can design the characters in such way that would suit the humorous tone. Animation also leaves room for a wider range of slapstick humor. This way the kids have something to laugh at visually. The adults can look to the wise cracking dialogue to get a laugh of their own.
1. Make Artemis & Holly the Heart of the Story
If there is one thing an Artemis Fowl movie will need, or any movie for that matter, is heart. Many films fail because of the lack of humanity. Film and art in general is meant to represent humanity in all its forms. By ignoring that and instead focusing solely on humor and visuals, the film will not call for any sequels. The source of humanity in the books is embodied in both Artemis and Holly. Holly is one of the major players in helping Artemis form a conscience. So much so that in the last book Artemis as good as tells her by saying, “I was a broken boy and you fixed me. Thank you.”
Its Holly that reunites and saves his family on many occasions. But more importantly, she awakens a compassion in him. In their first meeting as Holly is about to be knocked unconscious, Artemis has doubts but let’s his darkness win and knocks her out anyway. As important as Holly is, Artemis is twice as important. Its him we have to compassion for if we want more than one film.Its his character that changes the most.
As stated earlier, Artemis is a lonely child. With his mother insane from grief and his father missing there is no one he can really turn to for comfort. When we are first introduced to his mother, Angeline, we have to feel for the boy. Her mind is practically shattered and she is unable to recognize her son. She screams at him and throws a vase, unable to see her son’s heart breaking. At the end of the first book, when he’s making negotiations with LEPrecon to let Holly go, it would be easy to see Artemis as a hard-hearted brat. But when he asks for Holly to cure his mother and Butler, who was wounded by a troll, we catch a glimpse of the child inside. In the closing pages, Artemis reunites with a mother who loves him. By the end of the series, Artemis makes the ultimate sacrifice. But how can we care if we don’t see any heart in him before hand?
Film franchises will always be in our theaters. They are surefire ways to make a studio money. But is it too much for them to be entertaining and worthwhile? Artemis Fowl has the ability to be great film franchise. The question is will the filmmakers take the hint?
What do you think? Leave a comment.