Many films have used eternal youth as the main foundation of their plot. From Blackbeard’s drive to find the Fountain of Youth in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) to Jeff Schwensen’s desire to live vicariously through his younger protégé in Safety not Guaranteed (2012), these tales rarely end well. On the flip side, those who are not looking for eternal life often have it given to them. These films are usually more romantic in nature, like The Age of Adaline (2015) and Winter’s Tale (2014). While these romantic films aren’t generally received well by critics, the fact remains that none of the characters in these films can escape the ravages of time. Sure, some actors don’t seem to age very much (like Dick Clark, for instance), but with the help of digital technology, some actors have obtained eternal youth. This week’s two films focus on films that digitally include actors in their prime.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours
Over the years, many actors have appeared in films after they have died. This is due to the fact that it takes time between filming a movie and releasing a movie to get it ready for audiences. As such, the list of actors who have appeared in films posthumously is quite long. However, most of these actors were only dead for a year or two before the release of the film. One of the rare exceptions is the appearance of Lawrence Olivier in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Olivier had been dead for 15 years by the time this film was released, let alone when it started filming. Through the use of archival video and audio footage, the filmmakers managed to give Olivier one last performance. While it is a little unnerving that actors can appear in films long after they are dead, the technology to do so is quite impressive.
Dr. Totenkopf (Lawrence Olivier) has sent assassins and robots out from his island lair to retrieve two vials from Dr. Jennings (Trevor Baxter). While Jennings dies in the process, these vials are transferred to newspaper reporter, Polly Perkins (Gwenyth Paltrow), who is on the case of trying to find out what Dr. Totenkopf’s plan is. To help her on her investigation, she enlists the help of former lover, Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Jude Law). After being picked up by Commander Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), they head out from Nepal to Totenkopf’s lair where they find a large assortment of animals readied for a trip into space on a rocket. It turns out the vials in Polly’s possession are of the genetic material for a man and woman. A hologram of Totenkopf reveals his plan to start a “World of Tomorrow”, while his mummified corpse apologizes for his mistake.
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours
Makeup can be used to do a lot of practical effects when it comes to changing an actor’s age. While these are usually used to make actors appear older, making older actors appear younger can be much more difficult. Fortunately, in much the same way that actors can be brought back from the dead, digital technology can give actors different appearances without makeup. Two years before Tron: Legacy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) used digital technology to age and then de-age Brad Pitt’s titular character. However, in this Tron (1982) sequel, in order to recreate Jeff Bridges’ look from the original, footage of him from the same time period was used to digitally reconstruct the character of Kevin Flynn and his digital counterpart: Clu. In this way, who knows what sequels we might see, regardless of how long it takes to get to it (like Terminator: Genisys (2015)).
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) mysteriously disappeared in 1989, leaving his son, Sam (Garret Hedlund), the fatherless heir of ENCOM International for 20 years. Investigating a curious message sent from his dad’s old video arcade, Sam finds his way into “the Grid”: a virtual realm that his father had created around the time of his disappearance. After surviving a few “games”, Sam is rescued by a program named Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and taken to meet his father. It turns out that Flynn was trapped in the Grid after his programmed persona, Clu, shut down the I/O Portal. The only people who have the correct access disc to escape are the ones who were transferred in from the outside world: Kevin and Sam. With this information, the battle ensues to obtain these discs and escape the digital world. Will Clu get out, or will father and son be reunited in the real world?
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 ageless actors