It turns out that the technique used to pit an older Will Smith (Henry Brogan) against a younger doppelgänger (called “Junior”) in ‘Gemini Man’ isn’t the same as the de-aging effects used previously in the Marvel movies (among others). While Smith did perform motion capture, Junior is otherwise entirely CGI, using footage of Smith when he was in his early twenties. (So, as grim as the trailers make this movie look, it’s possible that some of what we’ll be seeing on the big screen may have been lifted from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’.) This process is more in-line with how young Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin appeared in ‘Rogue One’. Completely different actors did physical performances and Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing’s faces were then created digitally.
Smith compared his younger self to ‘The Lion King’ during a recent Q&A (via /Film):
“The younger character is not me. That is a 100 percent digital character. A completely recreated character. They didn’t take my image and just stretch some of the lines. It is a completely CGI character in the same way that the lions in The Lion King are CGI characters.”
Director Ang Lee also wanted to capture the inexperienced acting ability of the young Smith. As Smith recalled “He would tell me, ‘Act…less good.’” Smith has been nominated for an Academy Award twice (for ‘Ali’ and ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’) among other accolades, but thinking back to his early days, he was still testing the waters of acting when he made ‘Fresh Prince’, ‘Independence Day’, and ‘Bad Boys’. (However, I must point out that even prior to ‘Fresh Prince’, he’d received wide acclaim for his dramatic role in the film ‘Six Degrees of Separation’, so it wasn’t like he sucked.)
In addition to the lifelike recreation of young Will Smith in CGI, Lee is employing edgy 120-frames-per-second 3D, so this should look like no film ever has. Lee previously raised eyebrows for using this technology on his drama ‘Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk’. Why use such expensive, cutting edge technology on a drama? It turns out, it was because Lee wanted to experiment with this process before trying to apply it to a splashy high-stakes action movie.
Not every theater is equipped for this format, so if you want to see ‘Gemini Man’ in the highest quality possible, check with your local theaters before buying tickets. (Obviously, it will be released in lower-resolution as well, so if you don’t have one of these new-fangled theaters nearby, you can still see the movie.)
‘Gemini Man’ is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.
Get your eyeballs ready! ‘Gemini Man’ hits theaters on October 11, 2019.