The INSIDER Summary:
• “Doctor Strange” is a wild, visual ride.
• The best way to see it is in 3D and true IMAX.
• Here’s how to tell if your theatre will deliver.
If you’re heading out to see “Doctor Strange” next weekend, make sure you see it on the biggest screen possible — and in 3D.
I don’t say that lightly. I’m not someone who likes shelling out extra money to see a movie converted into 3D when it isn’t necessary, but I couldn’t imagine watching some of the spectacularly mesmerising optical illusions of “Strange” in 2D. It would be a disservice to the trippy kaleidoscope of visuals in the film.
Oh, so it was filmed in 3D?
No. It was converted in post. That may be because this was a risky movie for Disney and Marvel since Strange isn’t as popular as Iron Man or Captain America despite Benedict Cumberbatch having the reputation of being the internet’s boyfriend.
Granted, none of Marvel’s big franchise films have been filmed in 3D, so this would have been a first. But for something like “Strange,” if it were to take off successfully after opening weekend, I would hope there would be the consideration to film any potential sequels in 3D.
Then why would I want to see it in 3D?
I get it. Trust me. Post-conversion 3D can make audiences feel like films are usually cash grabs, but from the moment I’ve seen trailers for “Strange” I just had a feeling I would want to see it in 3D. Marvel chief Kevin Feige himself said 3D was used to help bend audience’s minds and boy was he right.
Imagine the elaborate dream-building of “Inception” on steroids. That’s what it feels like any time one of the characters trained in the mystic arts decides to turn the streets of London, New York, or Hong Kong into their own personal MC Escher drawings.
It’s something you just want to see the full scope of and it’s something a still image above or 2D, I imagine, couldn’t capture in the same way.
In fact, there were times in the opening sequence of the film where you’re seeing walls become floors and London being turned inside out that you’re more focused on the surrounding visuals than the dialogue to be honest. There’s just so much to see that you want to hit pause and look at everything going on, not just up close on the screen but reaching far into the depths of the background. It all just really pops off the screen.
When you’re not watching one of those three locations being turned inside out, you’re being blasted into the cosmos and the unknown vastness of the Marvel multiverse.
Never while watching the film is there a gimmicky moment where it feels like something is jumping straight out of you. Maybe there was one brief moment with a butterfly, but I don’t remember it feeling like much of a gimmick since I was more amused with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange in the moment.
For what it’s worth, “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn has defended the rise of 3D conversion in the past.
“3D conversion was once far inferior to shooting in 3D, but over the past couple years new technology has allowed us incredible control over the 3D effects, making it equal to or in some cases greater than shooting in 3D,” Gunn shared in a Facebook message in 2014.
Not all of “Strange” needs 3D
There are some surgery scenes where you rather not see them with 3D glasses on — I don’t need to see Strange pulling back some patient’s skin in 3D. Ah! — but for the rest of it, the mystical magical malarkey of it all? Oh my goodness. Let’s bask in that forever.
So what theatre’s best for me?
If you’re in NYC, I always recommend Lincoln Square’s AMC theatre because it has the only true IMAX-sized screen in the city. My screening was at the AMC Empire in Times Square and I was more than satisfied with that experience. If I was to see it again in NYC I would head to Lincoln Square. They have reserved seating though, so you would have to book your tickets ahead of time.
If you head out to see the film in IMAX, you may want to double check to see if your theatre is showing it in true 70mm IMAX or what many like to refer to jokingly as “lieMAX” (digital). Over the years, theatre chains have been converting many regular theatre screens to “IMAX,” but with smaller screens. Slashfilm has an excellent explainer on that if you want to take a deeper dive, but essentially here’s the screen difference in watching true IMAX (70mm) vs digital IMAX (a converted theatre screen to show IMAX).
So how do I know if I’m seeing “Doctor Strange” in true IMAX?
Great question. Thankfully, someone created a handy Google Map mapping out locations of true IMAX theatres across the country which you can check out here. The bad news is that the last time it was updated was in 2009 though.
Slashfilm has all of the theatres from back then listed out so you can see if there’s a theatre in your state nearby which has a big 70mm theatre. I’ve listed the theatres for New York, California, and New Jersey (my home state) below. Unfortunately, they’re few and far between.
Cathedral City Desert IMAX Theatre
Irvine Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 & IMAX
Los Angeles Rave 18 IMAX
Ontario Edwards Ontario Palace 22 & IMAX
Sacramento Esquire IMAX Theatre
San Francisco AMC Loews Metreon
Universal City AMC Loews Universal City
Atlantic City Tropicana Casino And Resort
New York AMC Loews Lincoln Square
West Nyack IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center
If you’re having trouble finding a 70mm theatre by you or aren’t sure if a theatre near you is true IMAX, send me an email at [email protected]
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