I Watched the Artemis Fowl Movie. Is It Truly Terrible?

July 12, 2020

Happy Sunday!

This is a post that I have been waiting to do for, I kid you not, YEARS. Ever since the Artemis Fowl movie trailer was released, I've been anxious to watch it - not because I thought it would be good, but because I knew it would be bad.

See, I have an obsession with bad book-to-movie adaptations. I love seeing how directors somehow mess up fascinating stories, and I love making fun of the finished product XD. I kid you not, I have an entire rant prepared on how Murtagh has 0 significance in the Eragon movie, but that's for another time.

This Thursday, I finally watched the Artemis Fowl movie, and I Have Thoughts. Not all of them are bad, but not all of them are good, either. So this'll be a movie . . . review . . . thing? Who knows?

Let me just say this now:

This movie was a combination of books one, two, and parts of three. I'm not summarizing all of these for those of you who haven't read the books. I'll try to fill you in as you go along.

Basically, Artemis Fowl is about this genius boy who discovers that there is a world of fairies and other mythical creatures living just beneath our feet. During the course of the books and movie, he kidnaps a fairy, teams up with said fairy to save his father's life, and ends up saving the world.

I'm keeping it vague because those are the only similarities the books and movie have. XD

And if combining all these books sounds like a lot for a movie to handle: don't worry, they watered it down to the basics. -_-

I figured I should start off this post with the things I LIKED about this movie. Because I did like things about this movie!

For instance, the counselor scene at the beginning was wonderfully done! It was pretty much verbatim from the book, and I appreciated seeing Artemis's smart, quiet, snarky side come out during this conversation. It was one of my favorite scenes from the second book, and I think it was done justice here.

I also thought the CGI was pretty decent. It was mostly believable, despite some loopy scenes that made 0 visual sense. XD

The soundtrack to Artemis Fowl was VERY enjoyable for me! Patrick Doyle always does a good job with his music, and the music, with its Irish nods, really brought the movie to life. I particularly like "Father and Son" and any song with an epic beat.

My biggest love of this movie was MULCH. In the books, Mulch is a dwarf with a sense of humor as large as his appetite for rocks and dirt, and he's such a funny, interesting character. And the movie got 97% of this character DOWN. Besides my quibble about him being the tallest dwarf ever (literally - it's a side plot), his personality and even his appearance were practically perfect. He definitely stole the movie.

Not that it was hard to steal it. Because there were Definite Issues That I Cannot Get Past.

I'm going to separate this negative section into the three biggest problems I had with this movie.


Remember how I said the CGI was good? Well, that's still true: I think the world of the fairies was excellently shown, at least from a visual standpoint. From a storytelling standpoint, however, I found it lacking in several respects.

My main issue was that none of the rules of this world were ever explained. Ever.

Now, in some stories, you can get away with this. For instance, in Lord of the Rings, Gandalf's magic never has an explicit set of rules.

However, Artemis Fowl's world has a very specific set of rules regarding how fairies interact with humans. Very specific guidelines have to be met for a fairy to go inside a human's house, for instance. And while I think this movie kept these rules, they were NEVER explained.

This makes things very confusing, like when Artemis, out of the blue, tells Root (a fairy commander wishing to negotiate with him), "I invite you into my house." It seems totally unnecessary, unless you know that an invitation must be extended to the fairy before they can enter. The movie never tells us this, however.

It's kind of important for viewers to know this crucial piece of information, since it explains why the attacking fairy army can't go into Artemis's house.

Even if the movie did tell us this information (in which case, I missed it), they didn't place great enough significance upon it, which is a bad decision.

And several other things aren't really explained or are just downright wrong when compared to the book. For instance, Root tells Artemis, "Fairies don't pay ransom," but Artemis's goal for the entire first book was to obtain fairy gold through capturing a fairy and offering her up for ransom. And it works. And they pay a ransom. #irritation

But okay, just because a movie didn't EXACTLY follow a book doesn't mean that it's horrible. Right?


I'm going to be honest: the characters really disappointed me in this movie. Besides Mulch, who was done almost perfectly and deserves an Academy Award. anyone who got that reference, thank you

Let's start with the minor characters, shall we?

Foaly, our resident genius centaur, who delivered 78% of the snark in the books, had exactly one funny line. All right, he's not really a major part of the movie and there wasn't a lot of time for him, so I'll forgive that.

What I cannot forgive is what they did to Commander Root's character. In the book, Root is a younger man. In the movie, Root is an old woman.


And this brings me to one of my biggest complaints of the movie.

Holly, the main fairy character, and Root are both part of the LEPrecon, or the fairy's police force/army. In the books, Holly is the first and only female officer of the LEP, and Root is her hard but lovable commander. This lack of females in the LEP gives very high expectations for Holly, and it gives her motivation for everything she does: she has to prove herself constantly. It's why she's reckless, it's why she is punished harshly at times, and it's why her capture by Artemis is hard on her. It shows she's weak.

But in the movie, there are practically BATTALIONS of women officers in the LEPrecon. Root himself (or herself?) is a woman. And to me, that just ruins everything Holly stands for in the books.

And what did the movie writers replace this book subplot with?

Oh, you know, the typical "My father was a traitor, I'm pretty sure he was good, and I've got to avenge my family name" subplot.


And you would think that the book subplot, which is HIGHLY feminist and women-empowering, would make it into the movie, but nooooooooo.

Now, let's talk about the villains, shall we? Or, should I say, very disappointing villains.

Briar Cudgeon has the least convincing villain character arc I've ever seen on a screen. In case you watched the movie and don't know who that is:

- he's the LEPrecon officer guy who hates Root and was recruited by the Main Baddie to stop the good guys . . . for some reason???
- since you don't remember his name, that's a pretty good indicator of how impactful he was.

Seriously, Cudgeon was a SEVERE letdown. But the Main Baddie, Opal Koboi, was the biggest of all.

See, both Cudgeon and Opal were taken from the books. But whereas Cudgeon can be delegated to a one-dimensional villain, to do so to Opal is a mistake.

Opal is one of the scariest villains I've ever read about. She attacks Artemis in at least four different books and nearly outsmarts him every single time. She's got really interesting, if  twisted, motivations, and she goes on a negative, vengeful arc in the books that ends with her trying to kill literally everyone.

But in the movie, she . . . wears a creepy cloak that covers her face. And she kidnaps Artemis's dad. And she has this weird raspy voice?? And she's got one monologue talking about her reasoning for . . . honestly, I completely forgot what her reasoning was. XD She just wants to Kill Everyone. She doesn't have any depth, and she doesn't even feel threatening to me at all.

The saying goes that your story is only as strong as your villains. Well, if that's the case, this story is pretty weak.

But you want to know the weakest point of all?


Allow me to go on a bit of a tangent here, because this genuinely makes me mad.

In the books, it’s made very clear that Artemis Fowl is NOT a good person. He’s selfish, cold, and is willing to sacrifice others in order to get what he wants. He kidnaps a fairy for the SOLE purpose of getting rich off of fairy gold, and he poisons another fairy to get her secret fairy book. And we hear that he’s kept his father’s criminal empire running.


He has some good qualities, though, such as taking care of his very ill and grief-stricken mother. These scenes in the book, though few and far between, were quite powerful. They showed that Artemis is not irredeemable. They showed that he does have a soul, even though he buries it under cruel intellect.

As the series progresses and Artemis grows, those scenes become more common. We see Artemis begin to open up to others and trust them, and he starts making friends. It takes time - LOTS of time - for him to change, because he’s not used to being a good person.

But this redemption arc is masterfully done because of that, and it yields powerful results. At the end of book 8, we see this boy, who used to be selfish, manipulative, and withdrawn from others, selflessly sacrifice himself for his friends. It’s one of the most amazing endings I’ve ever read.

Now, let’s go back to the movie, shall we?


Because here’s the thing. Disney chose to portray Artemis as a GOOD person who makes some . . . questionable decisions? But even when he does make those questionable decisions, he makes them out of a selfless desire to save his father.

Yeah, he’s a little antisocial, and he makes some sassy remarks to the counselor, but he never ONCE strikes me as a criminal mastermind, as a bad person. We are TOLD he's a bad person, and we're never SHOWN that he is.

And his character arc is . . . um, kind of a negative one? He learns to not kidnap fairies, and he accepts his legacy as the son of a criminal. This isn’t NEARLY as powerful as the redemption story of the books.

As for the powerful scenes with his mother, the ones that showed his humanity? Yeah, well, they didn’t happen, because DISNEY KILLED HER OFF. She’s not even in the movie! Those scenes could have been so beautiful. I genuinely would have shed a tear.

Instead, I just didn’t care.

Artemis’s arc felt so rushed and shallow, to the point where I couldn’t tell you, in explicit ways, how and where his character changed. Actually, most of the arcs in this movie are rushed, the most frustrating one being the relationship between Artemis and Holly, the fairy he kidnapped.

It took three books for Holly to completely trust Artemis, and with good reason. And it took that same amount of time for Artemis to feel a spark of friendship towards her.

But ten minutes after Artemis kidnaps her in the movie, he RELEASES HER. ?????? It takes HOURS in the book until this point is reached. *distant screaming* And yes, there is worldbuilding in the book that prevents her from killing him, but this isn’t mentioned in the movie at ALL.

Twenty minutes after THAT, they’re declaring each other as “forever friends.” Yes, that is actually a line from the movie. Yes, it’s Artemis who says that. Yes, that is the last thing Artemis would ever say. *throws up*

I came for a redemption arc. All I got was a semi-negative arc that at least ended with him in a suit and tie. Because he didn't even wear that in the beginning.

But I just can't see the point of his character arc in the movie. I can't come up with a coherent theme the movie could possibly be teaching us. It honestly just feels . . . empty.

There are tons more things I could rant about, such as the narration or the Aculos or Trouble Kelp or the fact that Artemis is actually athletic for some reason OR why literally everything in this movie is told and not shown, but I figured I better cut it short. This post is getting long as it is. XD

So would I recommend Artemis Fowl?


If you haven't read the books, I'd recommend it as a good starting point. And if you like the movie, then READ THE BOOKS.

If you have read the books, you have two options:
- Don't watch it and spare yourself the trouble and pain.
- Do what I did and watch it so you can have the pleasure of screaming at a TV for 90 minutes.

Anyways, it's not the worst book-to-movie adaptation I've ever seen. Percy Jackson and The Last Airbender are both much worse. The acting isn't bad, honestly! I just wish it had been better written.

The real question is, are they going to make a sequel or not? XD because they actually did leave it open and that irritates me

-Nicole <3

Have you read Artemis Fowl? Seen it? Did you enjoy it? Because if so, I'm genuinely glad you were able to enjoy it. :D What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptations? Let's talk!

You Might Also Like


  1. I was interested in this because it a directed by Kenneth Branagh, but I was so frustrated when it was announced that it would only be on Disney+! Now after reading this post I don't mind as much. XD I want to read the books now, though!

    1. Yeah, I was really sad about that too! I wanted to go see it in theaters. *sigh* but yeah, you weren't missing out on much. XD And yes, you should definitely try the books!

  2. Honestly, while the movie sounds horrible, this post made me want to read the books...because a redemption arc is ALWAYS a good idea. :D

    1. Redemption arcs make everything better, in my opinion. XD

  3. Basically the only things I see about this movie is that it's worth watching just to laugh at. XD I keep meaning to try it, but I'm having a hard time justifying using up a whole 2 hours of my life on it. Eheh.

    I've shamefully only ever read the first Artemis Fowl book, and it was ages ago, but I know it's a really great series and I'm mad FOR the fandom over this monstrosity they've made. Oh, these movie writers. I just...I will never understand them. *shakes head*

    1. That's what I've been seeing too, which is hysterical. XD Yeah, it's hard to justify watching it, honestly. I could have done so many other things during that 90 minutes. ;)

      I don't understand how movie writers can be so smart but . . . so clueless? Like, there's a REASON why the books were so successful!

  4. I'm only half way through the book, but it's so good.
    I did watch the movie and it's an awful adaptation. Though I did like Mulch.
    I wish they would have stuck with one book and not tried to change so much.
    Loved reading your thoughts on it.

    1. Aaaahhhh, yay, I'm so happy you've started it!!!
      Oh, goodness, I apologize for what you had to witness in that movie. But yes, Mulch was amazing.
      *nods* I 100% agree - less changes would have made an AMAZING movie.
      <3 <3

  5. Well, you convinced me to read the books! :P
    I watch book-to-movies adaptations in hopes that they got it right enough. Sometimes they do, so that's how that hope is still kept alive.

    1. Haha, yes, I have been successful. XD
      I'm the same way, although usually my expectations aren't even close to being met. . . .

  6. The books are so good, and it really disappoints me how bad the movie seems to be (according to everyone I've talked to about it).

    My other problem with it is the way Butler and Juliet are portrayed, but I think you covered enough stuff in this post to not need to mention that XD

    Maybe I'll watch it someday, but for now I'm hoping for an adaptation that actually deserves the name of Artemis Fowl.

    1. It really was disappointing. Honestly, I'd skip watching it. XD

      I KNEW I FORGOT SOMETHING. Yeah, that really irked me as well. Juliet in particular did nothing for the plot. -_-

      Agreed! I hope someday that we will get a good adaptation. :D

  7. Ugh. Bad book to movie adaptations are just...the worst. I mean, I guess they serve a purpose, as there are several books I wouldn't have picked up unless I watched the movie, but still. Doesn't excuse doing a bad job adapting the book.

    I've never read Artemis Fowl or watched the movie, but I can feel your pain.

    1. They really are, though. I wish the scriptwriters would stick closer to the book, then more fans would be happy in general!

      Haha, thank you. :)

  8. Yeah, I definitely had low expectations for this movie.
    Usually, I'm not a fan of book-to-movie adaptations, anyway, unless they're done REALLY well.
    Well, bad movies can be entertaining.
    I hate the forced diversity in movies.
    If it's already feminist, why change it?
    Anyway, good review, Nicole.

    1. YES to the forced diversity! And I know, right? I was so surprised that the feminist subplot was changed!

  9. I've never read Artemis Fowl but... oof. This sounds rough, even on its own as a movie. XP

    I'd love to hear your rant on Murtagh. XD (I have sooo many issues with the Eragon movie... Oh dear.)

    1. Yeah, I've actually seen a few reviewers saying that from a cinematic perspective, the person is bad. XD

      Oh, goodness, I might have to make that its own blog post. (And same here . . . that movie was a #yikes)

  10. Okay, I read the first Artemis Fowl book and didn't really like it, but still all of this stuff sounds SUPER ANNOYING. Why would they make Root an old woman?? That's so stupid. xD

    I do want to try the books again, though, because I've seen you talk about the redemption arc more than once and I need in on that. And I'll probably try the movie, too, even though it sounds like it left a lot to be desired... *sigh* Why is it so difficult to nail book-to-movie adaptations?? -_-


    1. I KNOW, RIGHT??? I don't get the reasoning at ALL.

      Yeah . . . maybe just try the books, because the movie . . . well, it wasn't great. XD I don't know why it's so hard - they've got the source material right there! It shouldn't be so difficult to use that. . . .

  11. I've read a few of the books. It sounds like the movie missed a lot.


  12. I skimmed because didn't want spoilers. But the imagery! And good music? I've been wanting to get into this series anyways. So yeah maybe the movie is a good start for me.

    MB: keturahskorner.blogspot.com
    PB: thegirlwhodoesntexist.com

    1. Oops, yeah, I forgot to put the spoiler marking on there, sorry. XD But yeah, I think for the most part, it could be a good way to get into the series!

  13. I've never read the books and haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't have a real opinion of either, but this post was still so entertaining to read. I love that you are obsessed with bad book to move adaptions. Usually people hate them so much that they just ignore they even exist. I'd be interested in a post about the Percy Jackson books and movies comparison haha


    1. Haha, yay, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
      Oh, goodness, that would mean I'd actually have to rewatch those movies . . . but we'll see. XD

  14. I can't see Artemis Fowl transitioning to screen too well....I mean, most of the fun is in Eoin Cofer's writing 🤣


Welcome to the comment section! I love hearing what you guys think and seeing you guys talk. Just remember to keep it clean, and as always, check back for my replies! <3