Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"X-Men: Days of Future Past — Rogue Cut" (2015)

Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence
Written by Simon Kinberg
Directed by Bryan Singer
Unrated — Violence, language, brief nudity
Running Time: 149 Minutes

In a dark, bleak future, the war between mutants and robotic Sentinels designed to destroy them has decimated much of the world. The few surviving X-Men, including Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr (Ian McKellan), Logan "Wolverine" (Hugh Jackman) and their friends discover a means to alter the past: using Kitty Pryde's (Ellen Page) abilities, they will send Logan back to the early 1970s to avert the events that ultimately led to the rise of the Sentinels: the murder of their creator, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

When Logan arrives, he's forced to contend with aspects of history he didn't anticipate — chief among them being young but bitter Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a man who resents what his attempts to bringing peace to mutantkind has done to him. Worse, Xavier isn't the only one Logan has to convince of the importance of stopping Mystique from killing Trask. To do it and save the future, they're going to need the young, bitter and unpredictable Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" originally premiered in theaters in summer of 2014. What was interesting then was not just how good it was, but that one member of the cast who had been part of the movie's promotional campaign was reduced to a mere cameo presence at the end of the film. Anna Paquin, who played Rogue in the first three "X-Men" movies, had most of her scenes excised from the film prior to its release. The studio soon began promising that an extended cut of the movie would see the light of day in 2015, and well, here it is.

"The Rogue Cut" is not a wildly different film from the theatrical version, which is probably a good thing, since that was already a good one. Instead, it just feels a bit fuller and more rounded. Although what's weird about it is that most of the new footage actually has nothing to do with Rogue, who still doesn't even appear until more than halfway through the picture, and even then has only a couple of lines.

The thrust of it is that when Kitty is injured by Wolverine's flailing about, Professor X, Magneto and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) decide they need to bust Rogue out of a Sentinel prison as a fallback in case Kitty can't finish the job holding Wolverine in the past. And that's exactly what they go and do.

What this sequence does to the movie is a couple of things: Firstly, it brings Rogue into the picture — duh — and then alters the third act accordingly, as now it's Rogue that's keeping Wolverine in the past, not the wounded Kitty Pryde. It also provides an explanation for how the Sentinels found the X-Men for their assault during the film's climax.

But Rogue's presence in the movie is still little more than a cameo, and Kitty all but disappears once Rogue replaces her. It's easy to see, then, why the filmmakers ultimately cut this subplot from the film. It fits, and it certainly doesn't ruin anything, but it doesn't help all that much, either.

The rest of the footage added to the film is more subtle, but better, mostly extensions of scenes, expanding the characters and dialogue. It's usually a few lines here or there, but it's enough to give the film a sense of being a bit bigger and fuller. A couple of entirely new scenes are sprinkled throughout, like a romantic encounter between Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique. This cut also includes a brief new mid-credits scene that's worth a chuckle.

Overall, if you liked "Days of Future Past," you're going to like "The Rogue Cut." Aside from the subplot involving Rogue, the changes to the film are mostly subtle additions that work to give a deeper sense of the characters. Rogue's subplot is fine, but ultimately not all that necessary. However, because of the other changes, and because it does give us a bit more of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, I think this will end up being my preferred version of the film.

See Also
"X-Men: Days of Future Past"
"The Wolverine"
"X-Men: First Class"

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