Will Smith’s latest action flick Bad Boys For Life has been the biggest success of 2020 so far, but overall his recent movies have been hits and misses. October’s Gemini Man proved two Smiths were not better than one when the big-budget movie could barely break even at the box office. Even so, money isn’t everything, and Gemini Man does hold significance to the future of movies as a whole.
De-aging technology has been a massive trend in Hollywood movies, such as Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and MCU films like Captain Marvel. But Gemini Man takes it a step further with a CGI character resembling a 23-year-old Will Smith. The younger Smith is not a motion capture performance; he is a completely digital character, not unlike the photorealistic animals of Jon Favreau’s The Lion King.
The visual effects for Gemini Man were created with the help of Weta Digital, which has created groundbreaking effects for the new Planet of the Apes movies, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, and Alita: Battle Angel, to name a few. Guy Williams, one VFX supervisor on the Weta team, said much of what’s coming from the visual effects company in the next few years will be thanks to the work developed during the making of Ang Lee’s Gemini Man. Guy Williams also said this to Yahoo! Entertainment:
The better the cameras get and the smaller they get, the easier it is to put a lot of them around the set. Eventually, there will be a point in time where we just have 40 cameras on every set that are giving us really good acquisition information so that we can [motion capture] anything and everything all the time. We’re not a year from that ideal. We’re a ways off, but it’s the natural progression of things and we should all be working towards that.
Bill Westenhofer, who was a VFX supervisor on Gemini Man, said that in future projects, actors may even have to weigh the option of being digitally scanned so Weta can use the information they receive for additional projects. One day, will it be tough to tell what’s a real performance and what is a state-of-the-art completely digital one? That’s insane!
Another recent advancement for this technology came in the form of de-aging stars like Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in The Irishman last year. In the past, the actors would have to wear head gear or dots in order for digital adjustments to be made to the actors’ faces, but this was not the case for Martin Scorsese’s Netflix movie. The director wanted them to be without the gear and dots so they wouldn’t distract from their performances on set, and it’s now possible.
Visual effects have come a long way in the past decade. Gemini Man was awarded the Entertainment Technology Lumiere Award by the Advanced Imaging Society back in September for its implementation of groundbreaking technology. However, on a commercial level, Gemini Man is proof that new visual effects ideas don't always pay off. The focus on the technical elements may have overshadowed the story itself and led to Gemini Man flopping.
What do you think about the visual effects work in Gemini Man? Would you like to see more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.