Oh boy! With Artemis Fowl, Disney+ really screwed up… but also got lucky in the process.
The Mickey Mouse company decided to try its hand at a film adaptation of a popular YA novel. This time around, it was Artemis Fowl. The plan was to cash in on similar success stories like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight. Instead of flying high, Artemis Fowl fell from the nest with a thud. That said, Disney was largely spared the pain of its failure thanks to streaming service.
As bad as it was, the movie looked good in the trailer:
The Movie That Never Was
Disney shot Artemis Fowl as a movie, not a series. Because of that, the film was likely destined for movie theaters. That didn’t happen and we all know why. Having made a significant investment in it, Fowl was released to the Disney+ streaming service. There, it suffered a vicious assault by critics. Here are just a few critiques from various film writers:
“Test-marketed to death and very weak… I guess if you have kids, this will kill 90 minutes. It’s very hard to sit through, though.”
“This failed Harry Potter wannabe replaces the naughty fun of Eoin Colfer’s YA novels about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind with a dramatically inert and emotionally empty film facsimile.”
“Disney disasters are rare but this big-budget, live-action fantasy is certainly one of them. It’s dreadfully disappointing, not even worth streaming on Disney+.”
Wow! That was quite a drubbing. And the reviews I didn’t include were even more brutal. As bad as it was, it would’ve been worse if Disney released it in the theaters. They probably planned for this to be a summer blockbuster with happy meal toy tie-ins, etc. The black eye the movie got on Disney+ would’ve been a closed-head injury as a theater release.
What’s Wrong with Disney’s Artemis Fowl?
It strayed from its source material. Seriously, it’s that simple. This usually happens when Hollywood hopes to bank off a book’s success. Too many people get a say into what stays and goes into these films. These so-called “experts” often change everything about the book that made it successful. What’s worse, they replace it with a bland, tried, and tired movie formula. As a result, fans of the book are offended and people seeing it for the first time find the movie boring.
The novel version of “Artemis Fowl,” by Eoin Colfer, has its legion of fans. They love the book’s premise of a precocious young ne’er-do-well who uses his brilliance to do some arguably sketchy things. (For example, he kidnaps a fairy to extort gold so he can be rich without earning it.) If you’re familiar with Disney, you’ll know that they really sanitized that story!
Here’s a short list of Disney’s most egregious errors made in Artemis Fowl:
The main character is nothing like the Artemis Fowl in the book.
The story is drastically changed, and not for the better.
The supporting characters also had their stories and motivations changed.
Things tend to happen way too fast and seem forced.
The ending is much different than the book and not nearly as good.
The only good thing is that the movie hints at a sequel that likely will never be. After such a flop, Disney probably won’t throw more money at it. Frankly, I’ve had my doubts about this streaming service from the beginning. I know I’ve defended Disney+ in the past, but only because Stuart Sweet was so hard on it. As much as I hate to say it, the bitter old man in California is right. Disney+ is still a “Mickey Mouse” streaming service that hasn’t hit its stride yet.
HBO Max Has Disney+ Beat
When it comes to engaging content to stream, HBO Max is where it’s at. Since June 1st, the streaming service added 121 second-run movies to its database. There are more on the way throughout the month. The streaming service also has some hot original movies and series headed its way, including:
Tokyo Vice, directed by the legendary Michael Mann.
Lovecraft Country, directed by the talented Jordon Peele.
The Third Day, starring Jude Law and Naomie Harris.
The Undoing, a mini-series starring Nicole Kidman.
The Nevers. Josh Whedon’s next mega hit, most likely.
House of the Dragon, a Game of Thrones spinoff due in 2022.
These are just some of the awesome originals headed to HBO Max. Now it’s time for my bold statement: I don’t think any of them will be a stinker like Artemis Fowl. All these original shows should be immensely entertaining, depending upon your tastes. The thing is, there’s something here for nearly everyone, which HBO has been doing for a long time now. I don’t expect things will change… and I don’t want them to.