Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Footage Review (Double Take) - DOCTOR STRANGE: 15 MINUTES IN IMAX

Welcome Readers! Two of the Merc’s writing staff had the chance to see a 15 minute first look at Marvel’s next film Doctor Strange coming to a theater near you on November 4th. Check out there reviews and thoughts on the footage below!


I arrived at AMC Rosedale 14 two hours early and joined the four people already there. Months worth of controversy pounded me in the back of my head as I stare at the special edition IMAX Doctor Strange poster in my hand. Someone had asked me a few days prior, “how can you, as an Asian, support a movie that whitewashes a role that could have gone to an Asian actor?” I didn’t have an answer for them. I still don’t. The casting of Tilda Swinton still eats away at the back of my mind in a way I can’t really ignore.

I was determined not to like the 15 minutes of footage. I was determined not to be lured in by the visuals or Benedict Cumberbatch’s piercing eyes. I sat there doing my best not to get overly excited.

Then the footage started. For 15 minutes, I sat at the edge of my seat and watched as one of my favorite Marvel characters came to life right before my eyes. Scott Derrickson’s background in horror shone through the psychedelic, disconcerting images that flew past on screen. One image in particular is burned into my memory as one of the coolest, weirdest things I’ve seen on screen in a very long time.

The only way I can describe this footage without giving too much away is to have you picture Marvel’s standard color palette. The bright colors and the glossy sheen of happiness that always seems to shine through, even in the franchise’s darkest moments. Now, through throw that palette over a sci-fi/horror film with a healthy dose of LSD-inspired visuals. It was truly unlike anything I’d ever seen.

There were a few negatives to the footage. The humor was all well-written and well-delivered, but it seemed that Marvel tried to cram a one-liner or two too many into the footage. Cumberbatch is as snarky as ever, but I didn’t need to see that much comedy. A few visual effects looked 5% shy of complete, which I hope is fixed in the final cut. Nothing I saw gave me any indication that the end result would be anything short of masterful.

And Tilda Swinton? Tilda Swinton was amazing. Her foreboding, intimidating presence played extremely well off of Cumberbatch in both his most confident and weakest moments. I can’t wait to see her in this role, even though saying so leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Don’t miss this movie. See it in IMAX. Walk in with an open mind. Representation matters. However, good cinema also matters. If you allow yourself to focus too much on a casting misstep by Marvel you very well might miss out on what I predict will be my favorite entry in the MCU.


I had a similar experience in some ways as I arrived at AMC Assembly Row 12. I got there a couple hours early and joined the singular Marvel sweaty in line in front of me (although more were not far behind). I was excited to see this footage as everything I had seen made me believe that this would be distinctly different in tone and style from other Marvel films. I was also uncertain what the event would be like as I had never been to something like this in the past. I’m happy to report I had a good time and enjoyed the footage even if some things still give me a bit of hesitation.

For starters, like Jonathan, I felt that the visuals were like nothing I had ever seen. From the trailers I had seen I had some expectations but the footage absolutely surpassed them by miles. There was a lot of craziness that I thought I’d never see on screen. One scene in the original trailer had been compared to Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), but seeing that in context was absolutely jaw dropping and took everything we saw to a whole other level. In addition, even the non-psychedelic visuals including one particular scene with a car seen briefly in the trailer (and familiar to Doctor Strange fans) were equally impressive.

I also thought this footage showed a continued commitment by Marvel to its cinematic universe. Not spoiling any of the specific references, this footage threw many obvious and obscure references at the audience that really showed great world building and created a lot of excitement and interest in the hardcore fans in the audience. I personally really appreciated this because I think the shared cinematic universe is something very special and I love seeing great cross-artist collaboration.

Exclusive Poster from Event

This footage wasn’t perfect for me though and I thought that there were two big questions regarding performances for me. First, Benedict Cumberbatch. His basic acting elements were all very solid and he looks the part of the character without question. His accent change did feel distracting at times and wasn’t fully consistent throughout the trailer which bothered me and could be an issue in the full film. Second, Tilda Swinton. Whilst I wasn’t disappointed or concerned in her initial casting, I didn’t love her in this footage. I think that with more story context what I saw could come off and carry the additional gravitas I expected it to from the outset, but it didn’t fully work for me here. Also, and this isn’t so much a negative as a necessary disclaimer, the footage shown wasn’t 15 consecutive minutes but rather 15 minutes total from sprinklings throughout the film with trailer music, cards, and all. When those are not in there I suspect some of the feel aspects I took from this footage will work differently.

Overall, I had a great time seeing the footage and I’m happy to have gone. This is a film that has about an hour (according to the introduction by Benedict Cumberbatch) of footage sized and mastered specifically for the IMAX format and this footage showcased that in a major way. I would implore people at all interested in seeing this film to see it in IMAX (or even IMAX 3D) because of the visual brilliance that format gives off and the filmmakers seemingly effective use of the form factor. Check it out in November, I know I will be!

Check out the official Doctor Strange trailer right here:

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment