Editor’s Note: this piece comes to us from guest writer Scott Muchow, who has written a few of these Disneyland previews up for us including Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and now Doctor Strange. We ADORE him, and not just for these special sneak peek reviews. Thanks so much Scott!
So, tonight we had the pleasure of seeing an extended 3D preview of Marvel’s Doctor Strange and, I must admit, I am intrigued. Which is something I haven’t been about this film. Honestly, when it comes to Doctor Strange I am pretty aloof, very much the casual geek. I was part of the ‘meh’ brigade when the film was first announced. I don’t feel that way any more, I want to see this movie and I want to see it in 3D.
This extended preview was crafted a little better than those I have seen before. This time, they took the regular trailer and stretched out some parts rather than showing an entire sequence followed by the normal trailer, like with Guardians or Ant-Man. Think of it as a nine minute trailer with a personalized opening intro from Benedict Cumberbatch.
Beware, spoilers lurk below.
Much of the extra footage shown is obviously early in the film and helps flesh out both the character and world we will eventually see, and it shows some of the humor I didn’t expect to get from such a serious film. The first elongated scene happens after the shot we have seen a dozen times when The Ancient One separates Strange’s body and soul.
Immediately after that shot when Strange asks “what did you just do to me” She answers “I pushed your astral form out of your physical form, for a moment you entered the astral dimension, a place where the soul exists apart from the body.” Strange follows that by asking why she did that to him, to which she answers “to show you just how much you don’t know”. For the layman in me, it was a perfect, concise, intro into what this film is going to deal with. This scene is followed by her sending him on a very wild ride up through the atmosphere, into space and then into what I assume is alternate dimensions. Visually it was like taking a hyperspace Bifrost ride through Bill and Ted’s phone booth tunnels.
The next stretched scenes have to do with Strange’s actual training. We see him standing across a table from another man who introduces himself as Wong, and this is where we see the unexpected humor. Strange’s reaction is “just Wong…like Adele? orrrr Drake? … (awkward pause while looking down at the ground).. Eminem?” It was a quick scene but it helped humanize things a little bit, put the narrative back in perspective, which I think the audience is going to need when dealing with all of this crazy coming at them in 3D.
Shortly after that scene is a longer one dealing with the Doctors’ obvious early training. He is in formation with a bunch of other students, all of whom are succeeding in creating these red/orange sparks flying shapes in the air in front of them. Strange is unable to make anything happen. The Ancient One excuses the class and says she wants to speak to Strange alone. She makes a circular motion and opens up a portal through which she and Strange step out onto the top of Everest. She says something about it being beautiful and he replies “yes beautiful, fff ffa freezing but beautiful”. She coldly responds “at this temperature a person can last 13 minutes before suffering permanent loss of function….but you’ll likely go into shock within the first 2”.
She then steps back through the portal saying “surrender Stephen” on her way out and closing the doorway behind her. We then see her and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character, Baron Karl Mordo, standing back at the training grounds waiting. Mordo says “not again” and hints that he should go and save Strange, The Ancient One holds him back. Then, as expected, a portal window opens up and strange falls through it covered in frost. It’s that moment of a superhero realizing their power that we expect from all origin films, but it was done well and, due to the themes in this film, quite differently than we have seen before.
The rest of the preview is pretty straightforward with shorter scene extensions and a lot of Strange battling Mads Mikkelsen’s character Kaecilius. We see Strange stop and even reverse time and there is an extended foot chase through the streets of New York City but with the city being turned and bent like something out of Inception. There are a few very memorable scenes tucked away inside of all the action. One is, while still training, Strange being told “heroes like the Avengers protect the world form physical dangers, we safeguard it against more mystical threats”.
There are a couple more notable humor moments as well. The Ancient One talks about learning of an infinite multiverse means learning of infinite threats. Strange asks what she means and she replies by saying “if I told you everything, you would run from here in terror” to which Strange says “You realize that means I should run from here right now in preemptive terror.” Ya it sounds cheesy written down, but it works in this moment and again makes the character relatable. We also see the evident first meeting of Strange and Kaecilius and its a great exchange done in that perfectly familiar Marvel style with a tinge of humor.
Kaecilius: “you cannot stop this mister….” Strange: “doctor” Kaecilius: “mister doctor” Strange: “it’s strange” Kaecilius: “really…who am I to judge”
It actually made me chuckle.
I left the theatre feeling like I knew the character a little bit and could actually relate to him, more so than in the quick cut trailers we have seen thus far. This is a serious film dealing with some more cerebral topics, but it appears they have put in enough levity to make the film grounded and relatable, and that’s good for a guy who thought this wouldn’t be his cup of tea. The only potential bad I see will come from the in-your-face effects, especially in 3D. There could be an overabundance of twisted cities and colliding dimensions that leave you feeling like you went to work for two hours. I’m not saying there is, just that I see the potential, I’m sure Marvel observed that awful third act of Man of Steel and my worries will be assuaged.
There is a hint at greater story depth here and I hope they do take the time to explore it. After all, it’s what can make a good film great. I think this movie will touch on the very human struggles of letting go of what you know and believing in something bigger, a power greater than what you can hold in your hands, and I think that is very relatable. So to sum it up, go see this movie, even if you are on the fence, I think it will be more relatable than you have guessed….and, if you can take it, definitely see it in 3D.
Doctor Strange opens worldwide on November 4th, 2016.