Tag Archive: digital de-aging


Review by C.J. Bunce

After pandemic delays and 32 years since the story left off, Ghostbusters: Afterlife finally arrived on home streaming platforms this past week.  Not only is it a worthy follow-on to the first two 1980s films, it’s thoughtful and nostalgic in the same way as a vintage Steven Spielberg supernatural adventure (think E.T. or Close Encounters or Super 8).  It provides something for all its potential audiences: fans of the original films, fans of the animated series, and anyone young or old looking for a mild, enjoyable family film.  It balances many things well: first and foremost the real-life death of original Ghostbuster player writer/creator and comedy master Harold Ramis, the need to bring back past characters in a way that is believable and even heartwarming, something for 21st century kids to find some fun with, and a horror comedy someone with no background in the franchise could just step into.  That last part is helped by the addition of the always amiable and relatable Paul Rudd as a scientist and teacher in the story’s improbable setting of rural Oklahoma, and the successful casting of kid actors who can hold their own against everything else going on.

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Every new technological creation seems to eventually arrive at a point where you can buy it at 99 percent off its original price.  It’s the classic 99% off sale.  And while it’s not true for everything, we can see it in many ways across the decades.  Look at something like the simple calculator, once a giant machine costing thousands of dollars, ultimately it came down in price (and size) to fit in your wallet as a free giveaway as businesses all over stamped an advertisement on the back as a marketing tool.  Today it’s a free feature on nearly every personal computer and android phone.  In the 1990s Connie Willis focused on the emerging technology of animating dead people in films in her groundbreaking novel Remake (discussed here at borg back in 2012).  It happened and it’s only getting better.  As recently as December Star Wars fans saw Mark Hamill reprise a young Luke Skywalker via imaging software in The Mandalorian, and probably the best use so far can be found by the de-aging of Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies. 

In basements (and governments?) across the world software designers and users dabble in “deep fake” imaging, attempting to push this technology to defraud (or prevent the defrauding of) others by digitally replacing faces in all kinds of video recordings.  Imagine making such video images by uploading a static image and simply pressing a button.  Guess what?  Now anyone can.  Look to an unlikely source to visit the future, thanks to a genealogy company’s new software program that costs its subscribers… nothing.  Quietly slipping in its own add-on free to its pay subscribers, a surprisingly good “artificial intelligence” turns any photograph into a short animation.  Yes, you, too, can re-animate the dead, maybe not as Mary Shelley envisioned more than 200 years ago, but take a look for yourself…

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