Disney’s Artemis Fowl trailer got a quiet release overnight and sent the fairly dormant Artemis Fowl fandom into a frenzy on social media by morning.
Excitement, disappointment, and frustrations abounded over Twitter and Facebook as fans of the books spread the trailer, many having heard next to nothing previously with Disney’s extremely limited marketing of the film or its production. To any casual watcher, the film looks like a fantasy/sci-fi film with all the gloss Disney can muster, reminiscent of Wrinkle in Time lush aesthetics. But the underlying anxiety is drawing comparisons to Percy Jackson, the recent The Giver, and other book-to-film adaptations that severely disappointed. To be clear, we all know book-to-film means changes to characters and story inevitably, but many fans have sentiment tied to certain characters or events of each book, which makes significant changes more unwelcome than smaller changes.
A major issue many are bringing up is the casting decisions and how they change the character and dynamic. In addition to Holly Short’s character allegedly being whitewashed, which was brought up around the original casting announcement, there is also a flurry of issues with her no longer being the first female LEP officer, something that was a major drive for her character. The fact that Commander Root, a character that didn’t want Holly on the force because of her sex, is now female as well just adds to the confusion.
The first looks at production design feel promising and very shiny, which is pretty standard for Disney at this point. They spent a lot of trailer time on moving through the internal workings of the Haven City Express ship, which just adds to the foreboding feeling that it will be an adaptation focused on presentation rather than quality storytelling.
However, it is exciting to see Eoin Colfer’s Gnommish language in action through different bits of the trailer. One hopes it will continue to play the parts it played in the book series as well and not merely ornamental.
The fairy transformation sequence has been another point of contention, though not so much for the expected reasons. From an old crone to a beautiful young fairy, this character, who’s being used here for dramatic effect, is actually impressive. The transformation is smooth and the artistic (and dramatic) leap into the air is beautiful. There is a promising production design at work here, again pretty bog-standard for Disney, and just gives a little hope that the original story won’t get lost in all the shine.
Artemis Fowl is a rich genius with a small emotional gamut (at least in the first book); his motivations are almost entirely selfish in the first book and he doesn’t even really care that it’s fairies and other beings that are supposedly not real. In the film, this has clearly changed. He has a big reaction to the fairy transformation and the set-up at the beginning leads us to believe his motivation might now be to save the world. This could just be down to the editing – he might be gasping at something else entirely – but still a bit disappointing of a shift.
And now we’ve reached the point where they show us lots of things very fast with up-tempo music. We’ve got what looks to be a military convoy – fairies? humans? We don’t know yet.
Josh Gad’s – I mean, Mulch Diggum’s – eyeball. (Anyone else wondering if they’ll render his bum flap?)
The two quick shots of cool tech gadgets brings back the sci-fi element. Butler’s crossbow with quick generating arrows definitely wins aesthetically over Artemis Fowl’s sonic gun though.
Despite rocking the character development boat, I am intrigued with Dench’s casting and hoping there’s a written fix for the changes. Many of the fans hope Eoin Colfer has had a hand in the writing, or at least the development, which could indeed save the film if it starts down the path of some of Disney’s previous adaptations.
The kid has some style, we have to give him that. The teaser trailer has strong Wrinkle in Time and The Giver vibes for me. The Giver was tremendously disappointing as an adaptation, while Wrinkle in Time remained fair. The teaser goes harshly for aesthetics and that may not reflect the final film; we’ll have to wait out the full trailer and see if it’s really “time to believe” in Disney’s latest adaptation attempt.
What do you think of the Artemis Fowl teaser trailer?