Disney has long prided itself on its great feature-length adaptations of media, from the classic tradition of fairy tales to the more recent pop culture sources like books and comics. They originally co-produced the first two installments of Walden Media’s “Chronicles of Narnia” film series (20th Century Fox took over for the third, but as now a Disney subsidiary the “Narnia” movies are all Disney’s). While they may have lost the likes of “Harry Potter” to Warner Bros., there are other book series that the House of Mouse can adapt, such as the “Artemis Fowl” series by Irish author Eoin Colfer, the film of which premieres this year.
While a teaser for the “Artemis Fowl” movie was already released by Disney last year, CNet tells us that a longer trailer that came out this week sheds light on what seems to be large changes to the storyline made by the studio. While Eoin Colfer’s books introduce the titular Artemis Fowl as a preteen criminal mastermind carrying on the legacy of his father, the film Artemis (Ferdia Shaw) looks to be out of the loop regarding his father’s true work until he mysteriously disappears, and the news paints the supposed art collector as a grand larcenist.
The Disney trailer then gives a good long preview at the franchise element that made Colfer’s books stand out for long children’s literature, the existence of an underground society inhabited by fairy folk, whom Artemis’ father (Colin Farrell) has had dealings with in the past. This is actually another significant change from the source material, with Artemis actually starting out hostile to the fairies after he kidnaps one of their police officers. Here, Officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) is actually a fairy liaison to the elder Fowl, working as a team with “giant” dwarf Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) and the Fowl family butler (Nonso Anozie).
While fans of the “Artemis Fowl” books might take exception to Disney turning the originally mean and vicious prodigy mob boss to a young man only just learning of his real “family business,” this and other changes to the plot were actually welcomed by Eoin Colfer. What really helped sell the adaptation for him is that director Kevin Branagh (multiple Shakespeare adaptations, Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” and MCU’s “Thor”), screenwriter Conor McPherson, and even the leads Shaw and Farrell were all Irish, as befits the primary supernatural setting of the franchise.
Disney’s “Artemis Fowl,” which finally manage to overcome development and production delays spanning years, arrives in cinemas on May 29.
Image from The OuterHaven