Science fiction thriller Gemini Man is the latest triumph in visual effects. The concept of creating a digital actor interchangeable with its live counterpart originated decades ago yet only recently have innovative technologies made it workable. The team at New Zealand-based visual effects studio Weta Digital led by Guy Williams have successfully, albeit laboriously, ‘de-aged’ Will Smith.
It took more than two years and required the skills of almost 500 visual effects artists in six different studios to create a full-movie-length digital actor known as ‘Junior’. The team of animators could not risk any imperfections as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon director Ang Lee ambitiously used a high-frame-rate format to film this movie, so they made a good choice in casting Forbes most bankable star Will Smith in the lead role.
Not only did Will Smith have a multitude of footage and data to draw from, but his exhaustive list of roles as both an actor, musician and rapper accorded him a multitude of talents required for such a high stakes role. ‘Junior’ is a 23-year-old version of Will Smith that drew on real footage of himself from back in the days when he was known as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The question is, was de-aging him all worth it?
This is the type of film that can be fully appreciated only in the cinema. Preferably 3D. From the outset the audience feels right near them; they feel part of the scene – they don’t just see for example, the grass swaying in the breeze and all the hairs on Will Smith’s arm. So yes, the movie-going experience is absolutely worth it!
Plot-wise this work is standard. Henry Brogan (Smith) is retiring from his job as assassin as he starts to grow a conscience about killing people. Naturally his last target was part of a conspiracy and in retirement he attempts to uncover it – so the U.S government wants him dead. Failures to kill him result in the release of Junior, a clone of Brogan raised by militant Clay Varris (Clive Owen).
Gemimi Man is a preliminary glimpse of the future of entertainment and is a major achievement. Well known horror film star Mary Elizabeth Winstead is well cast and balances Henry Brogan’s persona, Baron (Benedict Wong) is both amusing and apt as the go-to guy. Although it appears the film is all about achieving a visual feat, it is still an enjoyable film to watch. To make it awesome, experience it at the cinema.
Gemini Man opens on Thursday October 10th.
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