ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

With the emergence of new technology, the joy of watching a newly released film on the big screen can be forgotten. After all, films are released at home mere months after they debut, TVs are capable of glorious high definition and streaming services like Netflix are working closer and closer to simultaneous home and theatrical releases.

But there are some films that need to not only be seen, they need to be experienced. They require full immersion, a duping of the senses, an alternate reality to escape into for 120 minutes. Doctor Strange is one of those films, a visually stimulating construction that needs to be seen to be believed.

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By now, you may've heard the hype surrounding the aesthetic of the MCU's 14th feature film. The ocular extravaganza lends itself to the nature of the plot, which explores the origin of the Sorcerer Supreme and those skilled in mystic arts, essentially providing a blank canvas for imagination and creativity to run wild.

Turning The Metaphysical To The Visual

The Ancient One and strange take sparklers to the next level [Credit: Marvel]
The Ancient One and strange take sparklers to the next level [Credit: Marvel]

The biggest challenge for director Scott Derrickson and cinematographer Ben Davis was transferring a deeply unknown and unexplored realm onto the big screen. To assist, a number of the crew responsible for the gorgeous intergalactic palette of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) missed out on working on the sequel due to working on Doctor Strange.

To achieve the alternate dimensions and the hallucinogenic rollercoaster ride through various realities, a high level of previsualization was required. Previsualization is the process of envisioning scenes before they are shot (thus adding to the budget) in the forms of storyboards or computer generated images.

In a 2015 interview with ScreenDaily, cinematographer Davis explained the process of shooting. He said:

"Most of the work within it is about other dimensions. And I described it, I think, when I was talking to Marvel as Marvel’s Fantasia, in a way, because it’s so sort of out there and different to everything else that they’ve done.

There’s a lot of previsualisation, and there’s a lot of work which is very hard – you look at it and you see the imagery that they’ve created for it and you think, ‘well how the hell do we shoot that!?’ because it’s all sort of Escher stuff."

In terms of shooting, over an hour of the final material was specially formatted for the beautifully indulgent IMAX experience. The 3D in itself goes beyond a mere novelty to becoming part of the story. Marvel President Kevin Feige even had trouble converting scenes that were built for 3D into the 2D version without losing their impact.

A Story Best Told In Three Dimensions

With all the effort put into production, the reliance of 3D for a mind-bending experience and the cherry picking of Guardians finest visionaries, is the final result worth it? Is it worth splashing hard earned cash on the full, 3D IMAX experience? The answer is an emphatic yes.

One of 'Doctor Strange's' psychedelic moments [Credit: Marvel]
One of 'Doctor Strange's' psychedelic moments [Credit: Marvel]

As Davis mentions above, a big inspiration for the psychedelic was based on the work of M.C. Esher, a Dutch graphic artist who created mind-blowing, mathematically based illusions. The style of impossible objects, such as his depiction of the Penrose Stairs in his image titled "Ascending Descending," plays a big part in the film (and explains the link with 2010's Inception). In one alternate "mirror" dimension, replace stairs with entire cities and you get the idea of the magnitude of the scale — it's breathtaking.

Furthermore, Strange's transition from skeptic to sorcerer is expedited by a trip outside of his own perception of reality, after the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) opens his mind and sends him on a kaleidoscopic journey through bizarre dimensions. The awe-inducing and immersive sequence is almost worth the ticket price alone.

'Doctor Strange' is shot for IMAX
'Doctor Strange' is shot for IMAX

Although Doctor Strange dazzles the most in its moments away from reality as we know it, there are still treasures that lurk within the hills of Nepal, or the streets of London, or even at Stephen Strange's luxury penthouse apartment. Plus, that's not to say that the film isn't fully enjoyable aside from the visual, far from it, but it does show Marvel's exploration into different realms makes for magical viewing.


Will you be watching Doctor Strange in IMAX 3D?

(Source: ScreenDaily)


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