Fresh on the heels of Rebel Wilson as a life-sized dancing cat in the terrifying Cats trailer comes Hollywood’s latest CGI wizardry, courtesy of Netflix’s first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
The firepower of the cast – Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci – and director alone is enough to make the trailer a marquee entertainment event.
But the digital ‘de-aging’ of the stars using Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic is drawing just as much focus.
Based on Charles Brandt’s 2003 book I Heard You Paint Houses, the gangster movie tells the story of hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who on his deathbed claimed to have murdered union activist Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino.)
It covers three decades, a spanning issue that once would have called on the use of younger and older actors.
No more. Originally announced in 2008, The Irishman has called on technology to shave years off De Niro’s 75-year-old face, as shown in the 2:12 trailer.
According to Vice, Netflix funnelled more than $182 million into “Benjamin Buttoning” the cast “back to their glory days”.
The entertainment site noted the results are “fine” but suggested the streaming platform could have gotten similar results using one particular iPhone app that uncannily restores youth.
The question was intriguing enough for Global Analytica to ask the same thing.
Social media responses to The Irishman’s magic were also mixed, although more positive than when Disney used CGI to make Will Smith into a gobsmacking Genie from Aladdin earlier this year.
The idea of using “extraordinary” Rogue One style technology in The Irishman was mooted three years ago by Cinema Blend in an interview with the movie’s producer Gaston Pavlovich.
“You don’t use prosthetics, make-up, they have acting and the technology is able to have them go through different time ages without the prosthetics,” Pavlovich said of then then-groundbreaking CGI.
“We were able to film Bob and just do a scene, and we saw it come down to when he was like 20, 40, 60, so we’re looking forward to that.
“Imagine seeing what De Niro looked like in The Godfather 2 days, that’s pretty much how you’re going to see him again.”
Well, something like that.
What looks totally authentic are the tense phone call scenes and the giant pinkie rings, of which there are only three in the world, apparently. That prompted a comment from one Twitter user:
Scorsese and De Niro have previously collaborated on nine films including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas.
The Irishman is their first movie together since 1995’s Casino.
The movie, which will have its world premiere on the September 27 opening night of the 2019 New York Film Festival, also stars Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano and Harvey Keitel.
It will be released in selected cinemas later in the year.
The Irishman is Scorsese’s second Netflix release of the year after his Bob Dylan documentary Rolling Thunder Revue.
Its already generating buzz that it could be the first Netflix movie to win an Oscar for best film.
“When names like Scorsese and Pacino are going to Netflix, who is going to be the brave industry soul that blocks their awards show entrance?” asked NBC.