De-Aging is Distracting and Unnecessary
With the recent release of “The Irishman” and “Gemini Man,” a lot of the entertainment media has focused the discussion of those films on de-aging. For those who don’t know, De-aging is where you take an older actor and then through the magic of computer software make that actor look younger.
Normally what we would do when we are discussing films like this, is the subject would be about whether the story is any good or the performances are worth watching, or how’s the directing. But, with these two movies, we are not talking about any of that. Turn on your news feed and you will see people saying, “Oh look how they made Robert De Niro look younger,” and “See how young Will Smith looks, well he looks young normally doesn’t he?” The conversation is taking us away from what we should talk about in these films. “The Irishman,” based on most reviews, is an excellent film that stars a group of fantastic actors made by a brilliant director. We should talk about how Joe Pesci agreed to do this moving, considering that he is practicality retired from acting. Or maybe we should address how difficult it was for Martin Scorsese to get the film made.
There is another aspect of de-aging that is a problem, and it is that we are taking away the opportunity for younger actors to get roles in films. For example, in the “Godfather II,” Robert De Niro played a young Vito Corleone- a young Marlon Brando. If that movie had been made in an era of de-aging technology, Francis Ford Coppola would probably take Marlon Brando and make him look younger. Robert De Niro would have not received that Academy Award nomination for playing that character.
In “Gemini Man” another example of this where Jaden Smith could play a young Will Smith, but he’s not. “Gemini Man” is not getting all that greater of reviews so far, so maybe it is a good thing we are talking about de-aging with that film instead of the quality of the film itself. Many people thought what they did for Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” looked good. Personally, I thought it looked fake. If they had someone play a younger version of him for the few seconds the young version was on screen, would it have made that movie any less entertaining? I think not.
In the movie “Looper,” we had Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played a young Bruce Willis in that film, again if that movie were made today Bruce Willis would play a younger version of himself, which is fine and all but it distracts us from the actual film and it’s not needed. Just because we can put technology into films and we can do this kind of stuff doesn’t mean we necessarily should do it. Ask most anyone which “Star Wars” films are the best, and anyone who is not an idiot will say the original version of the films before Lucas starting going overboard with CGI. The reason for this is we are not distracted by CGI and able to enjoy the story.
I would like to see younger actors and actresses get the opportunity to play these roles and then they could develop their skills and turn into great actors Robert De Niro might not have had as many opportunities if he had not played that role in “The Godfather II.” But as previously stated, de-aging takes the audience out of the experience. We should not be talking about how the technology made a person look, instead what we should talk about in films like “The Irishman” are the story and the performances. Same with the other films.
Hollywood, please take a step back from the technology and give actors, both young and old, the opportunity to entertain us. And save de-aging for rare situations where it is needed. Not the current situations where it is not needed, but done anyway.
Commentary by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” a satirical look at being successful in the corporate world.