The Intricate Joys Of Watching Doctor Strange In Digital HD – Plus Preview Some Extras

by Staff


I went to see the film Doctor Strange in theaters–twice. The first time was a given, since I wanted to see what the filmmakers had done with an established but less action-driven property. But once you’ve seen it, the sheer weight of visual achievement in the film will keep you coming back for more. Like many friends, I was simply blown away by the visual effects of the film which are such a big part of making an audience believe in the authenticity of Strange’s experiences.

Now, the film has been released in Digital HD and on Bluray, as of February 28th this week. I decided to watch the film in Digital HD, and I assumed I would like the film as much as I had before, but in watching it on smaller screen, that the experience would be more nostalgic than new. I was remarkably wrong in that assumption. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that this film was actually made to function on multiple screen sizes with a particular eye toward digital viewing.

[Concept art for the film included in the Digital HD and Bluray versions]

It is as if Doctor Strange was made for digital viewing, since it retains stunningly high quality visuals even on a much smaller screen. Even on an 11 inch laptop screen, which is how I viewed it. Beyond that, watching the film in this way is actually a totally different visual experience than viewing it on the theater in many ways, since it’s as if you’re inside the world of the story in an even more sharply defined way when watching digitally.

The only downside is that medical sequences at the beginning of the film as Strange performs surgery in his role as doctor will be that much more queasiness-inducing. Get ready to assist in removing that bloody gauze and helping Strange suit up for surgery! The digital detail is such that you can even see the searing of flesh flesh as its bound by the magical spell-ropes in the prologue sequence. Well, you wanted HD, right?

[Concept art for the film included in the Digital HD and Bluray versions]

When the special effects are most intense in the film, the intricate digital artistry is most noticeable and astonishing, like the initial opening sequence when The Ancient One bends the cityscapes for the first time, as well as scenes like the attack on the New York safe house by Kaecilius, and particularly when Strange is driven down the hallway by the ever-extending parquet flooring. This is also the case, of course, during the massive city folding sequence when The Ancient One and Kaecilius face off, which apparently required a whole “New York Tiling Unit” to create (the credits suggest this to be true).

This indeed seems like a film that was created for a multi-screen experience. In an era when many films are trying to convert to 3D in post-production, showing a lack of foresight, this is  a remarkably clear-sighted perspective on the changes at work in the fan experience for Marvel to construct a film around as much around digital viewing as around the theater experience. And by the way, both post-credit scenes are included in the digital HD version of the film, located in the positions they held when they were shown in the theater.

[Concept art for the film included in the Digital HD and Bluray versions]

But there’s much more to say about deciding to view Doctor Strange in digital HD, since that option comes with rather a lot of extras. There are in fact enormous “iTunes Extras” for the digital HD version, including over 58 minutes of Featurettes, nearly 8 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, images that capture process art, behind the scenes work, and even a short introduction by the film’s directory, Scott Derrickson.

In the Featurettes, extraordinary factoids come to life, like the information that the filming of the feature was delayed for 6 months just because it was clear to the director that Benedict Cumberbatch was right for the part, even if his schedule wasn’t lining up with their plan. Cumberbatch made some compromises, too, to play Strange, coming off a run on Hamlet, and 36 hours later performing brain surgery in his first scene as Doctor Strange.

[Concept art for the film included in the Digital HD and Bluray versions]

In the deleted scenes included in these “extras” was also see aspects of the characters that are enlightening, and even if these scenes didn’t make the final cut, they do build an interesting appreciation for the world of the film. We see a more vulnerable and less experienced Strange being told to hold back at the New York Safehouse, for instance, and in the cut sequence ‘Lost in Katmandu’, we see Strange  helping a stray, lame dog, like a proxy for his own sufferings, before being attacked by street thugs.

Lastly, the behind the scenes Featurettes that explore the art and world-building of the film are both visually stunning and very much worth watching from a fan perspective on these films. In the same way that you can look inside the art design and digital effects of films like The Hobbit and appreciate the vast artistic and technological efforts that go into creating an entire mythical space, you can appreciate just how great a creative effort the film Doctor Strange is. And we should rightly honor the skill and craftsmanship behind a film like this one–as well as getting a chance to feel a sense of wonder again as we get to see behind the curtain on how these epic films are made.

Along with all of these special features included in the digital version is also the essential full audio commentary from Scott Derrickson running for the duration of the film, and even a gag reel.

Take a look at some of the footage included in the extras.

Here’s “Doctor Strange: Diving Into The Role”:

Here’s “Time in Hong Kong”:

Here’s more on “The Astral Form”:

And more on “Creating Magic”:

As you can see, there’s a double reason to revisit this film in Digital HD or Bluray–simply for the digital experience on a small screen that remains impressive and even exceeds expectation, and also for all of the access to the world-building in the film and the methods behind the magic. Happy viewing.

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