Alert! Alert! Work Perk! Work Perk!
I absolutely love, love, love a movie premiere and occasionally (ok, maybe all of twice) I have been able to attend one. Add in to that, as HK is no LA, these are incredibly special events when they do happen.
As more Hollywood blockbusters film scenes in China and the SARS (Hong Kong and Macau) to attract the huge mainland audiences and revenue, these events are slowly but surely increasing. (see my previous Transformers post here: Transformers: Age of Extinction World Premiere )
In the case of Doctor Strange, the movie was filmed in Nepal, shortly after the catastrophic earthquake of 2015, while also taking place in England, Hong Kong and in the United States. In fact, a few sequences were shot on the streets of Hong Kong, although most of what is seen in the film was built on a service road at Longcross Studios.
This did not dissuade Disney from holding the World Premiere of the movie in Hong Kong, which for media folk (considered me in this work-perk instance) was a 2-week long event, held in stages:
Part 1 – Media screening on Wednesday 12 October, 2016 at The Grand Cinema, Kowloon…turned out to be a couple of extended scenes, equating to about 40mins of footage. I was concerned why they weren’t showing us the entire film?
Part 2 – Press Conference at the Ritz-Carlton ballroom early morning on Thursday 13 October.
Part 3 – Red Carpet at Hong Kong Cultural Centre at 8pm on Thursday 13 October.
Part 4 – Finally, getting to watch the actual movie! Media screening at isquare Imax on Thursday 27 October.
In the film based on the popular, but less-well-known Marvel comic book series, Benedict Cumberbatch plays an egotistical neurosurgeon who has lost the use of his hands in a horrific car accident and in his search for a cure, discovers a world of sorcery. In a controversial casting move, accused of “whitewashing” Tilda Swinton plays his mystical mentor, The Ancient One – although she is probably the best acting in the film.
But this is no ordinary Marvel film. The comic book came to be after the majority of Marvel characters had already been established and delves into the supernatural and magic – which director Scott Derrickson said “defies explanation”. I even got to ask Benedict Cumberbatch a question at the Press Conference “If he was familiar with the source material?” which in moment of full transparency, he said “No”. When probing further if a comic book Marvel fan at all, he said “Yes, of course. My favourite film was the latest offering ‘Captain America: Civil War'”.
With the leading man himself not previously acquainted with Doctor Strange, the film unsurprisingly sits separately (at least for now..I fully expect to see Iron Man traversing time and space soon) from the expanded universe we have been used to seeing in countless films. Adding to that, the times in which the source material was written (the psychedelic 1960’s), when the writers were obviously experimenting with a lot of LSD and Magic Mushrooms is quite evident in not only the story line, but in the well-used CGI visuals..yep, this is one trippy film.
The visuals are indeed amazing in this film (one, that I highly recommend watching in IMAX or the very least in 3D), with nods to the mind-bending cityscapes in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’, but the story line in itself is hard to keep up with, with multi-dimensions, astral planes, third eyes, mandalas, space-time continuum and the like.
The film covers a lot of ground – which after speaking to fans of the comics – is a way to introduce the character to a non-comic book savvy audience (i.e. me) and provide set up for future installments. However, the basic premise has Doctor Strange, with his newly acquired knowledge of alternative dimensions and time-bending, chasing down former Ancient One pupil and now-villain Kaecilius (You were an ex student, I was an ex student too..wow, something they have in common. As well a nifty accessories: Doctor Strange and his humorous cloak and Kaecilus with his purple glitter make-up), who has stolen pages from The Ancient One’s sacred texts in the search for eternal life. In this pursuit, characters jump through portals, travelling from ancient lands to modern-day cities in an instant.
With a typical end-showdown set in Hong Kong, it becomes apparent why the World Premiere was held here.
An enjoyable, if not immediately forgotten film, with surprising comedic touches, I would recommend watching for Benedict, Tilda and the trippy visuals and forgo the crazy space stuff and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s terrible performance. But overall a perfect popcorn movie out.