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Indiana Jones 5’s Best De-Aging Effect ISN’T Harrison Ford – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Indiana Jones 5’s Best De-Aging Effect ISN’T Harrison Ford



Caution: Spoilers ahead for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny! There has been significant discussion surrounding the de-aging effects in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, particularly regarding Harrison Ford’s portrayal. However, it is Mads Mikkelsen’s character that truly impresses with the use of de-aging. The application of this technology in blockbuster films has generated mixed reactions. Movies like Gemini Man and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman were highly anticipated for their de-aging techniques, but some viewers found them to be unsettling and unnatural. On the other hand, Samuel L. Jackson’s de-aged Nick Fury in Captain Marvel was executed flawlessly, proving that it could be done successfully.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was expected to be a significant milestone for de-aging, especially after the release of its trailer. The film opens with approximately 20 minutes of de-aged Harrison Ford as the iconic Indiana Jones. While some shots are visually stunning, there is still a slight video-game-like quality to Indy’s appearance in these scenes. Although Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny showcases some of the best de-aging effects to date, it also highlights the need for further improvements in this technology.

While the de-aging of Ford’s character receives mixed reviews, the exceptional visual effects work on Mads Mikkelsen’s Voller often goes unnoticed. Voller, the film’s antagonist, is introduced in the opening sequence as he explains the significance of the dial and its capabilities. Unlike the de-aging effects on Ford, which sometimes appear digitally enhanced, the majority of scenes featuring Voller exhibit a more subtle and realistic approach. The attention to detail, such as Mikkelsen’s skin appearing wet from rain, adds to the authenticity of his character. It is not until the film jumps ahead in time to 1969 that audiences can truly appreciate the remarkable de-aging effects on Voller. While some adjustments may have been made to make Mikkelsen appear older in later scenes, the CGI used on him remains virtually invisible, unlike the noticeable effects on Ford.

There are several reasons why the de-aging of Ford’s Indiana Jones falls short in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Firstly, despite being visually portrayed as in his mid-40s, Ford’s voice still sounds like that of his present-day self. Additionally, as the character participates in various action sequences, some of which involve stunt doubles, the mapping of his face onto the character does not quite align perfectly. In reaction shots, Indy’s facial skin exhibits a rubbery texture, a common giveaway of de-aging effects. This is an aspect that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny successfully addresses with Mikkelsen’s Voller, potentially due to a different technique employed. In a Vanity Fair interview, Mikkelsen mentions that a distinct method was used for his de-aging, but does not provide specific details. Perhaps in the future, VFX artists should consider revisiting this technique for future projects rather than utilizing the one applied to Harrison Ford’s character in Indiana Jones.

Source: Vanity Fair

Warning: Spoilers below for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny!Much has been made of how Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny de-aged Harrison Ford for the opening sequence, but the work done on Mads Mikkensen’s character is way more impressive. The use of de-aging technically in blockbuster movies continues to inspire mixed emotions. The likes of Gemini Man or Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman were touted pre-release for how impressive their use of de-aging would be, though many viewers found them to suffer from a distracting, uncanny valley quality. Conversely, Samuel L. Jackson’s de-aged Nick Fury in Captain Marvel felt incredibly well executed, proving it could be done.




It was hoped that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny would mark a turning point for de-aging, especially after its trailer debut. Indiana Jones 5’s opening de-ages Harrison Ford’s titular hero for around 20 minutes of screentime, but while some shots look incredible, there’s still a video-gamey feeling to Indy in the sequence. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has some of the best use of de-aging to date, but it proves the tech still has some work to do.

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Related: Mads Mikkelsen’s Indiana Jones Villain Is Based On Real Nazi & NASA Scientist



Mads Mikkelsen’s Indiana Jones 5 Deaging Beats Harrison Ford’s

Mads Mikkelsen Indiana Jones 5 Harrison Ford

While Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has mixed results when it comes to de-aging Ford, most tend to overlook how great the VFX work is on Mads Mikkelsen’s Voller. Mikkelsen’s antagonist is introduced during Dial of Destiny’s opening, where he sets up what the dial is and what it can do. Whereas the de-aging of Ford has a digital sheen in many shots, the majority of scenes involving Voller lack the telltale signs of the effect.

That’s because the work done on Mikkelsen feels more subtle, and it sells details like his skin being wet due to rainfall in a more photorealistic way. It’s only when Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny jumps ahead in time to 1969 that audiences can really appreciate how good the de-aging effects on Voller were. They may have been some work to make Mikkelsen appear older in his later scenes to sell the effect, but while viewers might be pulled out of the opening due to the CGI on Ford, it feels almost invisible on Mikkelsen.

Why Ford’s Indiana Jones Deaging Doesn’t Work

Custom image of deaged Harrison Ford and a plane flying through a hole in the clouds in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Several issues with Ford’s de-aging in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny undermine the effect. One is that despite being made to look like he’s around his mid-40s, he still sounds like present-day Ford. Another is that since that character is featured in many action shots – with some likely performed by stunt doubles – the mapping of his face on the character never quite sits right. The skin on Indy’s face in his reaction shots also has that rubbery sheen that is a familiar de-aging giveaway.

This is a detail Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny got right with Mikkelsen’s Voller, which might simply come down to the technique used. In a Vanity Fair chat, Mikkelsen explained “It’s not the same technique as they used on Harrison, I believe. Because they had all these frames of him as young Indy, so they had to do something else.” Sadly, he doesn’t offer many details on what method was used, but in future, it might be best for VFX artists to employ that again than the one used on Harrison Ford’s Indiana.

Source: Vanity Fair

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