The Multi-Dimensionality of Doctor Strange in a Two Dimensional Space

    ****Warning: This article contains spoilers!****

    I did not know what to expect from Doctor Strange; but what unfolded was a visually stunning and well made addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    While watching the credits I counted 13 post-production visual effects companies that were used. Those companies did an amazing job bringing this world, and the ones beyond, to life realistically.

    A.A. Dowd of A.V. Club said “The 14th installment in the ever-expanding MCU is the first to really exploit the possibilities of CGI—to use state-of-the-art technology to its full, jaw-dropping advantage.” A statement I completely agree with.

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    Normally, when I watch a 3D film it feels like the extra dimension is just there subtly and then in the action something, like blood splattering unnaturally, suddenly jumps out at you. In those cases it takes me out of the film.

    When I watch it in 2D I always think, “What was the point of that? Oh yeah, it was for the 3D.” Many things in those films don’t appear to be well thought out, they just appear to be put there as a gimmick to show off the 3D aspect.

    One of the lessons I learned during my film school is everything that happens on screen needs to be intentional and done with purpose. This is something the makers of Doctor Strange did well.

    At Comic-Con 2016 Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, spoke about the visuals of Doctor Strange. He said, “There are sequences of the film that 3D is actually necessary to tell the dimensional story that is happening through visuals, and we’re now finding ourselves in VFX reviews going, ‘Okay we know this is perfect for 3D, this is built for 3D, but the story’s gotta work in 2D so how do we adjust it so it still works in 2D?’ ”

    I feel like they found that balance and made it work. As you can see in the pictures it is natural looking, like it was made for 2D, yet it was made for 3D.

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    The cinematography and the effects blended together to create a truly beautiful film. After the car crash and the loss of proper movement in Dr. Strange’s hands, there’s a lot of grey and dark that fits with his loss of hope. In Kathmandu, there are the colourful Nepalese buildings and clothes. The masters of Kamar-Taj, the order that Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is learning from, also have colourful clothes, more so than their pupils.

    In the multi-dimensions the look is neon and fluorescent gas clouds surrounded by stars in a blue hued background. In the darkness of Dormammu’s dimension, there are the same colours only black instead of the blues of the multi-dimensions.

    The folding mirror world reminded me of Inception, the way the walls moved and folded like origami. At first it bothered me, since that was the first thing I had thought of and I didn’t think it was original enough. However when I give it an honest look beyond the basic and first introduction to it I found my mind changed.

    I feel like they took a building block of buildings turning as if they were on an axis like in Inception and went further beyond to have the streets folding over and creating different spaces. It wasn’t just building from nothing, it was taking an existing place and shaping it as you need it to be, while another person is trying to do the same. I hope they actually delve into that more in the future films to explore what it can do.

    I thought it was a great introduction to the multi-demensional world of Doctor Strange and the mystic arts. It was fun to watch, especially when Strange got chosen by the Cloak of Levitation, which is sentient, and it decided its job was to assist and protect him. At one point Strange tried to go for a weapon, but the cloak was pulling him towards a straightjacket type device. The device trapped Kaecilius (the film’s antagonist, played by Mads Mikkelsen) in it and made him a prisoner. It was one of the many examples of the seamless integration of CGI and real life.

    No matter how you watch it, the visual effects and cinematography are made to be pleasing to the eye while getting the story and multi-demensional places across realistically. While it is achievable in 2D, in 3D it really look great and was worth seeing as such.

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    • Hilary Dorst is a writer, director, and teacher living in British Columbia, Canada. When she’s not working on movies she is trying to get to the nearest beach and being crafty. She thinks life is about all the small stuff that people forget to look at and enjoy.

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