A couple months ago we got a teaser for Martin Scorsese’s mob passion project, The Irishman. This is the movie with extensive digital de-aging of its stars, and at the time I said, “They still have a few months to get it all fixed up”. Well, The Irishman is opening the New York Film Festival TOMORROW, so they are out of time and OH MY GOD IT LOOKS WORSE. How does it look WORSE? How did two more months of tweaking make the faces look EVEN MORE CARTOONISH? Can we all PLEASE admit that digital de-aging is just not as seamless and effective as we want it to be? It works for brief moments, but can we PLEASE abstain from altering faces for the length of a three hour-plus movie? This is a nightmare.
The movie itself looks pretty good for, you know, a three-and-a-half-hour indulgence. No one captures Robert DeNiro as effectively as Scorsese, the intrigue over Jimmy Hoffa’s death is a true crime boondoggle, and hey, there’s Joe Pesci! Great to see the Pesh again. But good god, every time the camera lands on their gummy, plastic, creepily flat young visages I want to scream. IT LOOKS SO BAD. The eyes…they are so empty. There are multiple shots where people’s eyes—especially anyone with blue peepers—look like they have been colored in Microsoft Paint. This is just…this can’t possibly be what Scorsese wanted.
He got all excited about a new technology, but that tech isn’t as flexible as it needs to be to truly serve his purpose. He should have just cast multiple actors at different ages to play the same character, it would be no less distracting than that shot where it looks like Joe Pesci’s face is about to melt. I hope someone asks him about this during the press tour. No one will, because no one will want to admit Martin Scorsese made such a giant mistake, especially to his face, but I really would like to hear Scorsese discuss this process and if this is actually how he wanted it to turn out. There have been rumors he experienced some buyer’s remorse, and I believe it. This cannot POSSIBLY be what he intended.
We could learn a lot from someone like Scorsese discussing a mistake, but I doubt it happens. Scorsese won’t want to admit the mistake on the record, and no one will want to risk his ire—or even blacklisting—for challenging a master who has obviously done a huge goof. In fact, it will probably be the opposite, with the festival coverage insisting the de-aging is totally fine and not an Uncanny Valley fever dream. You know what this looks like? Call of Duty. The de-aged faces in The Irishman look like video game characters. This is about the level of character effects in triple-A games. Netflix let Martin Scorsese do whatever the f-ck he wanted, spent an alleged $300 million on it, and what they got is a three-and-a-half hour cut scene.
Attached- Al Pacino out in New York yesterday.