‘Indiana Jones 5’ Joins List of Terrible Cinematic De-Aging

in Disney, Movies

Princess Leia, Indiana Jones, and Captain Jack Sparrow all de-aged

Credit: Disney

We live in the golden age of CGI. Apparently. Despite multiple technological advancements, such as The Volume – AKA the LED immersive soundstage used for The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi – it seems like “bad CGI” is a complaint cropping up in more and more movie reviews than ever.

Hollywood’s determination to run before it walks is a big part of the problem. Rather than recasting a role, an increasing number of studios are choosing to use CGI technology to de-age or transform their actors, with occasionally horrifying results.

A de-aged Harrison Ford in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'
Source: Disney/Lucasfilm

Related: Too Old? Disney to De-Age Harrison Ford in ‘Indiana Jones 5’

Disney’s latest blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), is no exception, opting to kick off the final installment in the franchise with a lengthy, misjudged sequence in which Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) is temporarily restored to his 45-year-old self.

There are glimpses of a version of Indiana Jones that are just too cartoony to be believable. At times, it feels almost like you’re watching a video game character instead of a younger, stronger Harrison Ford. It joins a long list of dodgy de-aging effects in recent years, ranging from Star Wars to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Worst De-Aging in Movies

The Losers Club, It Chapter Two (2019)

Part of what made It (2017) so successful was the charm of its young cast. By the time they filmed the sequel, however, the majority of its then-juvenile cast had grown up so much that it was near-impossible to believe that they were still the same age as the first film.

Finn Wolfhard de-aged in 'It Chapter Two'
Credit: Warner Bros.

The solution? De-aging the actors to look a few years younger. Teenagers and children are rarely de-aged in cinema, and this film should be used as an example as to why. Young Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) was the scariest standout with his unnaturally smooth, supposedly childlike transformation. This was hailed by Vulture as “the scariest part of It Chapter Two,” which is quite the accomplishment when you share a screen with Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård).

Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

For the most part, Pirates of the Caribbean is the epitome of CGI in cinema. The likes of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and the skeleton crew of the Black Pearl in the original trilogy hold up as some of the most impressive CGI Disney has ever produced, even 20 years after Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) debuted.

Young, de-aged Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'
Credit: Disney

But by the time we reached the franchise’s latest (and last?) movie, we hit uncanny valley territory. There’s a short scene in the film in which Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is de-aged to his younger self. The result is nothing short of creepy, with dead eyes and a general waxy, lifeless quality that’s impossible to compare to Depp’s animated, iconic performance.

Princess Leia, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Carrie Fisher’s cameo as Princess Leia in Rogue One was one of the film’s biggest twists. After securing the blueprints for the Death Star, the film ends with the Rebels quite literally placing the plans into the hands of Leia – therefore directly leading into the events of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), which kicked off the entire franchise 39 years earlier.

De-aged Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

There was just one problem. Leia didn’t quite look like Leia. Her final appearance was more of a wide-eyed ghost of the character’s former self, making the scene more jarring than the inspirational, nostalgic moment that was clearly intended.

Tony Stark, Captain America: Civil War (2016)

We don’t blame Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) for being angry about Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) repurposing his “B.A.R.F.” technology to relive old memories, considering it gave us the bizarre experience that is a de-aged Downey Jr.

De-aged Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in 'Captain America: Civil War'
Credit: Marvel

Related: Disney Created New AI System Helps to Change the Age of Actors

This sees the character portrayed as his sarcastic, moody student-self the last time he ever saw his parents alive. To give the movie credit, Downey Jr does look remarkably like his twenty-something-aged self. The big issue is his voice. Tony Stark sounds just like Robert Downey Jr in his fifties, which is tough to reconcile with the young man seen on screen. Bizarre.

Nick Fury, Captain Marvel (2019)

To slot Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe today, the film had to rewind a little bit. Her big-screen debut is set in the 1990s, with Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) suitably de-aged for the occasion.

De-aged Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in 'Captain Marvel'
Credit: Marvel

This isn’t just a brief cameo. Fury has a lot of close-up screen time in Captain Marvel. That makes the flaws of the CGI de-aging even more evident than usual. Jackson looks almost rubbery in some shots, making it tough to believe that he’s a real man in his forties and not just a creepy avatar.

What do you think is the worst example of de-aging in cinema? Let us know in the comments!

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