Film | by Shane “Digitally Recreated” Hnetka

2016 was a pretty bad year, and to top it all off, Carrie Fisher has passed away at the age of 60. It was just a few months ago that she was in Saskatchewan attending the Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo. I’m grateful I got the chance to meet her and listen to her talk. The woman was fantastic (and so was her dog, Gary).

Drowned in Moonlight Strangled by Her Own Bra

Fisher’s body of work will always be overshadowed by Star Wars. But she did do a few other movies, as well as writing. She was a script doctor on several films, including Lethal Weapon 3 and The Last Action Hero, and her own semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, was adapted into a movie. Naturally, she wrote the screenplay.

One of my favourite Carrie Fisher roles was her turn as the jilted ex-girlfriend in The Blues Brothers. Every so often during the movie she would show up and try to kill John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with machine guns, rockets, bombs and bazookas. She was awesome as a slightly unhinged character no one would want to mess with, Jake aside!

It’s a heartbreaking loss. Still, Disney might not be done with her — as you know if you’ve seen Rogue One.

Uncanny Valley

I hate revealing spoilers, so for those few who haven’t seen it yet, here’s your spoiler alert. In the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One (not Rouge One as half the world accidently misspells it), the filmmakers have finally done it. They used a late actor’s likeness and computer animated it for a major role in a new film. Peter Cushing, who died in 1993, “appears” as Grand Moff Tarkin, the man “holding Vader’s leash”.

There’s even a young Princess Leia, courtesy computer graphics and body double Ingvild Deila.

The ability to recreate dead actors on screen has been many an actor/film fan’s fear. Ever since Fred Astaire’s heirs licensed his likeness into a vacuum ad, actors have feared this day.

But while I’m sure some studio is going to create something evil and lifeless with this technology, I don’t think you can really create a great acting performance without an actual actor. Even CG Peter Cushing had an actor stand-in, and while it looks good and seems like Cushing, I’ve seen enough Peter Cushing movies to know that it’s just not him. The voice is off and there are several little gestures he would’ve made that weren’t done. And using nothing but CG just makes it an animated cartoon, or maybe a digital puppet is a better analogy.

There will always be actors out there giving real performances. Still, it looks like we’ve finally created a digital zombie that even fire and gunshots won’t put down.

Shane Hnetka is a made-in Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd.