Blockbuster filmmaking, however, can absorb those expenses. And the ability to use digital wizardry to manipulate performances has proven too tantalizing for filmmakers to resist, despite the ethical concerns raised about conjuring a performer’s likeness posthumously.
The nagging problem has been, for lack of a better term, the soullessness of these digital renderings, even when a living actor is around to help create them. As Andrew Gruttadaro wrote on The Ringer, there are enough lingering flaws in the process that these manipulated characters become distracting, inasmuch as they’re “always immediately noticeable,” and “much weirder than seeing a younger actor who only kind of looks like the character he’s playing a version of.”
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Admittedly, there’s risk associated with casting new actors in these massive enterprises, and Harrison Ford’s charisma isn’t easily replicated. That might be one reason why “Solo” gets off to a rocky start, before rallying down the stretch, as the story — and the movie’s star — settle into the material.
Part of the excitement surrounding the project, though, is seeing a relative newcomer try to make the character his own. Historically, some long-running franchises have actually benefited from turnover, from James Bond’s 50-plus years to “Star Trek’s” new big-screen crew to the ever-changing face of Doctor Who.
Of course, the Bond producers haven’t exactly been infallible, with George Lazenby among the footnotes to a movie series bookended by Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. But even the bar game of debating such matters — Who’s the best Bond? Does Ehrenreich measure up? — adds zest to the maelstrom surrounding this sort of movie.
The risk-averse nature of major studios is hardly a news flash, which explains why the period before, during and after the original “Star Wars” has suddenly become one of the galaxy’s busiest quadrants.
The fact that “Star Wars” is going to outlive its architects, however, provides an incentive to keep injecting new blood into it and finding fresh faces to play beloved characters, which — at least at this stage — is still vastly preferable to digitally remastering them.
That’s not to say that every new Han or Leia is going to work out as well as the originals did. But to paraphrase the former, faced with a daunting challenge, there’s not much gained by fretting about the odds.