Thanks to modern movie magic your favorite actors never need to grow old and decrepit ever again. The ‘magic’ we are referring to of course is computer generated de-aging technology which digitally rejuvenates actors approaching the Golden Girls portion of their lives. This relatively new visual trick is actually a cool alternative to recasting. However, as you will see the results tend to vary. What follows are five of the best to worst examples of youngified movie characters. We’ll start with the worst and work our way up to the best Hollywood’s coke fueled computer animators managed to crank out.
Yeah…we just assume everyone in Hollywood is on coke, from the directors to the buffet table staff.
Patrick Stewart in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
We begin our list with Patrick Stewart who made an uncredited cameo as a young Professor Charles Xavier in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins. Despite the fact that a de-aged Patrick Stewart already appeared in an earlier X-Men movie (which we’ll get to later) this version in comparison was a cheap abomination. The VFX in X-Men Origins was spotty at best anyway. With that in mind it’s no surprise Professor X ended up looking like a sloppy rush job that some digital artist quickly threw together before heading out for a three hour lunch break. Or perhaps a three hour coke break?
Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy
Tron: Legacy was a long awaited sequel that split fans right down the middle, leaving behind a rather nasty geek taint. For instance, over on AICN’s talkbacks the regulars were tearing each other new orifices over every aspect of this movie from casting to music choices. Now to be clear, we are mostly placing Bridges young CG alias Kevin Flynn here due to the opening scene which was brimming with all kinds of videogame like weirdness and a strong case of uncanny valley.
It stares back at us as if it is mocking all humanity.
However, in CLU form, Bridges de-aged persona worked far better because he existed in a surreal computer universe as opposed to the real world. The character’s lack of realism was also a lot less noticeable when surrounded by tons of sleek visuals and women in tight leather outfits.
When she was onscreen we couldn’t care less how fake anything looked.
Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen in X-Men: The Last Stand
Although the 2006 movie X-Men: The Last Stand may have had extremely mixed reviews one thing most fans dug was the youngified takes on two of their favorites from the franchise, Professor X and Magneto. The story opened twenty years before the movie’s current events, with a much younger Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr meeting a tween Jean Grey. The effect was actually pulled off very nicely; especially considering it was not CG. In this case the technique used was “digital skin-grafting”, which rejuvenated the faces of the two iconic actors via complex key framing. Although some fans speculated they’d use the same technique in the prequel X-Men: First Class, ultimately they decided to simply recast which also worked out just as well.
Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Here’s one we’re guessing most of you were expecting would be our number one choice…well sorry know-it-alls, not this time. The 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button featured a youngified (and oldified) Brad Pitt and basically knocked it out of the park. Hell, the film won Academy Awards, for Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects. And the awards were well deserved as we got to see Brad Pitt change from a comical elderly freak to a cool young dude and eventually to a really handsome sperm. If any of you are interested there’s an awesome vid on youtube which documents the entire visual effects process by Ed Ulbrich called. ‘How Benjamin Button got his face’.
And now onto our number one pick for best de-aged movie character. And the winner is…
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Salvation
How’s that for a shocker? Say what you will about the 2009 sequel/prequel Terminator Salvation (go ahead say it, we’ll wait) but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo was hands down the most epic part of the movie. Although the rest of our entries did not have videos available for viewing this particular appearance is still online as of this writing, check it out here…
Now this is the proper way to handle a youngified version of a character. Notice the wise choice to use shadows, frantic lighting and smoke to blend Arnold into his environment. Also, a younger actor was used for the body movements (Roland Kickinger). Granted, this pick was a bit of a cheat considering the digital artists didn’t have to create a fully realistic Arnold. In the movies he was always a plastic looking killer cyborg anyway. But we’ll be damned if this youngified incarnation didn’t look exactly like the plastic looking killer cyborg we met way back in the first Terminator in 1984.
In any event, keep up the good work Hollywood! We here at Weirdworm thank you for hours of entertainment and we’re sure your dealers thank you for putting their kids through college.
- – Patrick Stewart in X-Men Origins: Wolverine: http://imageshack.us/a/img545/7333/profx1.jpg
- – Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy: http://imageshack.us/a/img138/9250/youngjeff2.jpg http://imageshack.us/a/img594/3144/youngjeff1.jpg http://imageshack.us/a/img35/2399/uhhuh.jpg
- – Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen in X-Men: The Last Stand: http://imageshack.us/a/img27/8767/profx2222andmag.jpg
- – Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: http://imageshack.us/a/img16/3990/youngbp.jpg
- – Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Salvation: http://imageshack.us/a/img145/2994/arnoldtsalvation.jpg