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Josh Enjoys the Rogue Cut of X-Men: Days of Future Past

I quite enjoyed the theatrical version of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  (Click here for my original review.)  Let me be clear, I lament how much of the classic comic-book story, by Chris Claremont & John Byrne, was jettisoned for the film.  I would so dearly love to some day see a more direct adaptation of that classic X-Men story for the big screen.  But I loved the idea of using the hook of that story-line as a way to merge the original cast of Bryan Singer’s X-Men films from a decade and a half ago with the new, younger First Class versions.  That’s a genius idea.  I thought the film worked well on its own — not spectacular, but very solid — as a super-hero adventure flick, and I absolutely adored the final few minutes which served as a tremendous course-correction on the mis-steps the franchise took with Brett Ratner’s misguided and flawed X-Men: The Last Stand. 

When the film was released, there was a lot written on-line about how Anna Paquin’s Rogue had been cut from the film.  Apparently, to keep the film’s run-time at a manageable level, an entire subplot featuring her character was cut from the film, and in the theatrical cut Ms. Paquin only appeared as Rogue for a brief instant in the final moments of the film.  That brief appearance was satisfactory for me, but of course I was curious to see what had been cut out.

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I am delighted to report that the extended “Rogue Cut” of Days of Future Past that has recently been released to blu-ray is a wonderful enhancement of the film.  The Rogue subplot has been restored to the film, but I was surprised by how many other great little bits and moments had also been edited into the film.  Pretty much all of these moments are great, and as such I feel pretty confident that this will be my preferred version of the film to watch from now on.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this “Rogue Cut” is not a radical alteration to the theatrical version.  The changes are far more subtle than some of the more famous directors cuts that are out there, such as the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films, or, say, the directors cuts of James Cameron’s Aliens or The Abyss.  (By the way, if you’ve never seen those directors cuts, track them down immediately!!) The most dramatic change to the film is, no surprise, the sequences involving Rogue, which are nicely well-woven into the extended version.  The main element of this restored subplot is the mid-movie mission that the aged Magneto (Ian McKellan) leads to rescue Rogue from captivity.  It’s a nice bit of business on its own, but what is neat is how that prison-break sequence is edited together with 1970’s Magneto also breaking into a prison, in order to reclaim his telepathy-blocking helmet.  It’s lovely, seeing the actions of the older, more heroic Magneto contrasted with his younger, more misguided counterpart.

Over-all, Rogue’s presence doesn’t dramatically alter the film.  The film worked without her in it, and it also works nicely with her back in it.  Though this version is called the “Rogue Cut,” Rogue is still a very minor player in the story, and I found myself more interested in a lot of the other small changes and additions than I was in Rogue’s inclusion.  There’s a lovely new romantic moment between Beast and Mystique that surprised me, and a small but appreciated amount of additional attention given to the band of young mutants we see fighting the Sentinels in the beginning (Bobby, along with Bishop, Warpath, Blink, and others).  In the theatrical version those new mutants (see what I did there?) are hugely generic.  That’s still the case here, but now at least they each have a little more dialogue that allows us to get to know them a tad bit more.  There’s also a terrific new stinger added into the middle of the closing credits that really caught me by surprise, and that I loved.  Nothing of earth-shattering importance, but a great fun little bit of business nonetheless.

Interestingly, the restored Rogue sequence also dramatically adjusts the story of Bobby (Iceman).  In the theatrical cut, there’s just a brief reference to the relationship that Bobby and Kitty shared in the third X-Men film.  More weight is given to the Bobby-Rogue relationship from the first two X-Men flicks, as in the adjusted timeline at the end we see the two of them together, reunited in a happy ending.  But the restored Rogue material also emphasized that Bobby was no longer with Rogue in that timeline, that he was with Kitty, and the film plays up the strength of that relationship.  So that makes the ending, when we see Bobby with Rogue rather than Kitty, more bittersweet.  Both versions work for me.

I’ll also add that, while the original blu-ray release of Days of Future Past was a pretty bare-bones affair, this new disc has a much stronger array of special features.  There are two commentary tracks, both of which are entertaining, and a great collection of making-of featurettes.  All of this material should really have been on the first set, but whatever, I’m pleased to have it here.

The “Rogue Cut” of X-Men: Days of Future Past is not going to change one’s opinion on this film.  If you didn’t enjoy the theatrical version, this new cut is not going to change your mind.  But, for me, it strengthens what was already a solid flick.  Pretty much every change or addition worked for me.  As I wrote above, I suspect this will be my preferred version of this film from now on.

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