Robert De Niro’s CGIed Age Reversal In ‘The Irishman’ Unsettles Viewers
By Mikelle Leow, 29 Nov 2019
Video screenshot via Netflix
The Irishman is yet another film that has viewers questioning if CGI is necessary in areas where a lookalike actor could have filled in.
Netflix has just released the three-and-a-half hour epic following organized crime in post-war America through the lens of World War II veteran. It stars De Niro, 76, Al Pacino, 79, and Joe Pesci, 76, all of whom were de-aged for the movie.
Reversing their ages was an ambitious feat, and US$200 million was spilled on digital effects to make the actors look younger.
The film has received rave ratings, but the de-aging of De Niro still seems iffy to some viewers.
Some viewers have likened the CGI to the 3D faces in The Polar Express, and their criticism is understandable. CNET’s Richard Trenholm describes the effects as “uncanny valley,” a phenomenon when people can tell right away that there’s something off about a digitally-created face.
The hesitation of a simulated younger De Niro isn’t helped by a scene at the beginning, where his character meets Joe Pesci’s Russell Bufalino for the first time. In real life, they’re both 76, but Pesci calls De Niro “kid” in the scene.
However, Trenholm stresses that it wasn’t a bad effort trying to de-age De Niro. A transformation of this measure notably involved “a huge amount of craft and artistry,” but the effects are destined to leave audiences unnerved as they are “so attuned to the tiniest nuances of the face.”
Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri shares the sentiment, explaining that the de-aged De Niro might look young, but it’s still not fully believable as it’s physically illogical for him to move like a young person. More importantly, fans would be able to recall “what a young Robert De Niro did look like, and sound like, and move like.”
You can watch The Irishman trailer below to judge for yourself if the US$200 million job was worth it.
I found it difficult, while watching The Irishman, accepting Robert De Niro as being young with the current old man frame and being called Kid by Pesci.— DNew (@DNew1101) November 29, 2019
"Young Robert De Niro" looks like he walked off of The Polar Express and onto set for The Irishman— Casey Seline (@casey_seline) November 28, 2019
I actually don’t know how I feel about the Irishman. I was so confused about Robert de Niro age. The fight at the grocery store was a mess. I only realised he was meant to start off as a young guy when his daughter and everyone around him aged.— Bola Agbaje (@bolaagbaje) November 28, 2019
Watching #TheIrishman. Good movie if you like the mafia genre.— DMartyrن (@DMartyr) November 29, 2019
The make-up and special effects department did an excellent job making Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro look young. Unfortunately for De Niro, an old man just can't move like a young man, and it really shows.
[via CNET, video and cover image via Netflix]
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