Wednesday, August 5, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut)

When X-Men: Days of Future Past was released in the summer of 2014 I ended up seeing it three times with three different sets of people. It was unanimously liked by everyone, including myself (obviously). Not only did it successfully combine both the classic and First Class casts, but it did so in a big, fun way. But there was always something about it that never seemed to add up to me. The character of Rogue, played by Anna Paquin, is in the film for a grand total of about 3 seconds at the end, yet she received billing over actors that are featured for the majority of the film in the end credits. That didn’t make sense to me at all, but I just figured she’d received a popularity boost from True Blood and was given priority due to her history with the series. Whatever.

But word began to spread that there was a massive sub-plot that was completely excised from the film involving Rogue that was overlong and slowed the pace too much. As it turns out this was true, and soon after the film’s premiere on home video 20th Century Fox announced they would release a double dip featuring “The Rogue Cut” alongside the theatrical version the following summer.
Now that “The Rogue Cut” is available to the general public I bet you’re wondering… just what is different about the film? The plot is unchanged. It still starts from Point A and ends at Point B, but not in the way you might remember.

There are smaller character moments added in for flavor, especially in the case of the new mutants introduced in the opening scenes – Blink, Warpath, Bishop and Sunspot. We get to know them a little better than in the theatrical cut which is a nice touch since the only info given originally was through the usage of their powers. At least now we know their names instead of “Teleporter Girl” or “Human Torch Ripoff”. Seeing that Sunspot is covered in burn scars is a cool detail passed over for the sake of the runtime.
There is also a scene toward the end where, after being shot by Magneto, Mystique returns to the Xavier mansion looking for help with her wound, has an intimate encounter with Beast and finally trashes Cerebro so that Charles can no longer track her movements or attempt to interfere with her mission via telepathy.

But the main reason this cut of the film exists is in the subtitle – Rogue. This is the most significant change because it alters the finale a little bit. So, Wolverine has his little freak out after seeing Stryker in the past and slashes Kitty open in the future. Bleeding to death and unable to hold a continuous link between Wolverine’s mind in both timelines, Iceman suggests that they bring in Rogue to steal Kitty’s powers so that she can take over the mind linking while Kitty gets medical attention. Sad thing is that Rogue has been presumed dead for a long while. We discover that she is alive and is being experimented on in the one place Xavier cannot find her – the Cerebro chamber in his old mansion. So Xavier, Magneto and Iceman plan a daring rescue which succeeds at the cost of Iceman’s life (it’s a suitably disturbing scene when it goes down). Now with Rogue able to take over for Kitty, Wolverine is able to complete his mission in the past.
Out of all the changes made to the film, this was the most interesting and welcome. Personally, I love the character of Rogue. Especially in the first film. Her arc basically covers the whole “outcast” experience and coming to terms with being different and accepting that and all that comes with it. Her gift keeps her isolated from others and she was a tragic figure in these films; unable to touch anyone for fear of possibly killing them. Good stuff. I do feel that she was mishandled in the subsequent films, relegated to the role of the damsel in distress who does nothing but screech at the top of her lungs a lot and gets all emo when her boyfriend begins to fall for Kitty (Worst. Subplot. Ever.). In this cut of the film we see that she has honed her powers and knows just how long to touch someone without hurting them and is supremely confident in her abilities once she escapes from the testing facility. We also see that she’s matured quite a bit in regards to Iceman leaving her for Kitty and that she’s all for assisting the team regardless of the fact that it’s the woman that stole her boyfriend back in the day that needs her help the most. There’s a moment they share with a single look that sells it completely. Good stuff.

What surprised me the most is that it’s Rogue who is still linking Wolverine to the past during the finale where the Sentinels burst in and begin killing everyone. Through some creative editing and a little CGI trickery they covered up the fact that Rogue was sitting at Wolverine’s side for the whole scene. I never noticed at any time in the original cut that it was not Kitty, and I went back to watch the finale of the theatrical version to verify that. Impressive.
But the question remains… does it really make a difference? Not really. None of the additional scenes add anything of note to an already well made and paced film. Sure it’s great to see Anna Paquin as Rogue once again or to see why Xavier never attempted to stop Mystique with Cerebro a second time. The only moment that did anything to advance the characters was to see that Mystique and Beast are still attracted to each other even after her betrayal. Rogue’s new scenes only seem to give greater weight to the coda of the film where we see her back together with Iceman. Sorry, but its true.

Do these scenes improve the film in any way? Even though “The Rogue Cut” is a little over 15 minutes longer than the theatrical cut I feel the same about both versions. They are both fast, fun and entertaining in the extreme, one just has 98% more Rogue and a pseudo sex scene between Mystique and Beast added into the mix. The pacing doesn’t feel off to me even with all these new scenes, so I could logically say that I wouldn’t watch any version over the other. They’re both solid and the plot is unchanged. It just takes a slight detour before getting to Point B.

4 out of 5

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