3 Best Uses of De-Aging CGI in Movies (And 3 That Make Us Regret Technology Exists)

3 Best Uses of De-Aging CGI in Movies (And 3 That Make Us Regret Technology Exists)
Image credit: Walt Disney/Sony Pictures Releasing

Every time the use of digital de-aging in a movie is announced, fans wonder what it will be this time: a masterpiece or an abomination, and these six clearly show why.

Digital de-aging of actors is a double-edged sword, because for some reason filmmakers haven't found a single successful approach to using it, and each time they take a gamble with very hit-and-miss results.

So let's take a look at three of the best uses of the technology that made actors look incredible, and three of the worst that made them look like CGI puppets.

Best: Alfred Molina — Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Considering there were 17 years between Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Alfred Molina had to be de-aged to reprise his role as Otto Octavius, but the most impressive part is that not all viewers even noticed throughout the entire movie.

Worst: Carrie Fisher — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

While seeing Princess Leia at the end of Rogue One was a great surprise, the reveal was tarnished by the fact that she looked like an expressionless robot with the actress' face plastered over it.

The same thing happened again in Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, where Fisher was de-aged for a flashback sequence.

Best: Sean Young — Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Denis Villeneuve created an exemplary sequel to the 1982 cult classic Blade Runner, and one of the film's biggest twists came when the now-older Rick Deckard met Rachael, or rather her Wallace Corporation-made copy.

The digitally recreated face of Sean Young was almost identical to the original, leaving viewers almost as shocked as Deckard himself.

Worst: Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen — X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Yes, this attempt at digital de-aging was made 17 years ago, so it deserves at least some leniency. Still, it looks pretty awful, and maybe it should have been left out of the movie.

Best: Hayden ChristensenAhsoka ( 2023)

The Star Wars creators have slowly learned their lesson, and for his appearance in the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series, Hayden Christensen was much better de-aged than Carrie Fisher.

However, the Ahsoka TV series improved even more, with some clever use of smoke and lighting to make Anakin look just as great as he did in the prequels.

Worst: Arnold Schwarzenegger — Terminator Salvation (2009)

It seems that the makers of Salvation thought that every Terminator movie had to have an obligatory Arnold Schwarzenegger appearance, so they included a scene where John Connor fights a T-800 Terminator.

However, it looks so fake that maybe they should have made him appear skinless and without Arnold's de-aged face.