Tonight, Marvel held special events in select theaters across the country, previewing 15 minutes of footage, in IMAX 3D, from their upcoming release, Doctor Strange. Thankfully, I was able to snag a ticket to one of the venues hosting the event.
I must admit that before going in, I wasn’t all that excited about Doctor Strange. I’m feeling burnt out by the MCU at this point and was one of the few who didn’t care for Captain America: Civil War all that much.
With that out of the way, the sizzle reel displayed was quite entertaining. Think Batman Begins meets Iron Man meets the visuals of Life of Pi. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular protagonist, Stephen Strange, a highly skilled surgeon who seeks out the mystic arts. From what I’ve seen so far, I think you can expect yet another engrossing performance by Cumberbatch. white washing controversies aside. The first clip previewed was him talking to the Night Nurse, encouraging her to see one of his talks (Rachel McAdams). He inhabits traits of Tony Stark, but doesn’t become a carbon copy of him. He’s so self-centered to the point that he brushes off requests to operate on gruesome injuries such as a soldier being crushed by an armored suit or a woman who suffers from a severe aneurysm. The clip showcased the protagonist, but the next couple displayed the most appealing aspect of the footage, in my opinion.
The second clip takes place in a dojo in Tibet, where the grandmaster of a cult, The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) berates Strange for marginalizing the mystic arts and soul. To instill discipline, she strikes Strange so hard that his soul actually leaves his body, which was seen in the very first teaser Marvel released. However, this particular clip continued on from that point.
Remember that quantum realm scene in Ant Man? Yeah, this clip manages to top it in terms of trippiness. The sea of bright and flashy colors, multiplying hands, and rigid dimensions Strange flew through was absolutely mind warping. The many quick zooms and close ups in this sequence added joy and intensity, reminding me of Superman’s first flight scene in Man of Steel, but in a way zanier fashion. Director Scott Derrickson certainly wasn’t kidding when he said that this movie is one that would feel like an acid trip. The visuals are, literally and metaphorically, out of this world.
In another clip, we see Strange and his newfound ally, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), flee from the villain (Mads Mikkelsen), who is unnamed as of now. The buildings in New York City fold upon one another, Inception-style, as he and his friend run on the walls to avoid their attackers. Judging by this clip, I think we can expect to get some creative action. While the fighting scenes in Ant Man enlarged the environments, Doctor Strange goes a different route, choosing to manipulate and reshape them, giving the action a woozier feel.
However, some common MCU flaws were present in these fifteen minutes. The villain seems to be yet another shallow one-off in the MCU, which has been a problem bogging down a fair share of its installments. In the clips shown, Mads Mikkelsen does the best he can with his role, but so far, his character’s motivations come off as generic, i.e. destroy the universe, but it’s too early for me to judge.
The comedy was pretty hit or miss with the Wi-Fi password joke (featured in the SDCC trailer) getting a chuckle out of me, but the one-word name exchange with Benedict Wong’s character, Wong, leaving me indifferent. One of my gripes with Marvel movies is that the levity veers a bit more on the pedestrian side. The quips are a little overdone due to either awkward timing or excessive use, but enough on the negatives.
The footage did its job in that it increased my anticipation for this film. As of now, I’m finally looking forward to seeing the full, finished film (looking at you, Suicide Squad).
Doctor Strange releases in the UK on October 25th and in the US on November 4th.