This review contains spoilers for X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
Ever since the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, fans have been clamouring to see an extended version which restores the (allegedly) substantial amount of material that didn’t make the cinematic cut. Even at the time of release, it was widely known that most of the scenes filmed by Anna Paquin – Rogue from the original X-Men trilogy – had been removed.
A year later, fans have had their wish granted with the release of a new cut of the film subtitled The Rogue Cut. But has adding scenes to this famously convoluted superhero movie improved it? Is this a case of ‘more is better’, or simply ‘more is more’?
For the most part, the narrative of the film remains intact. Small tweaks help to flesh out the characters and setting early on – more dialogue from Bishop and Blink is notable during the initial scenes, spelling out the grave consequences of their plan’s success (never mind its failure) while Wolverine gets some extra moments with the woman he wakes up with. One shot lingers (a little mawkishly) on the still-standing World Trade Center. For most of the film, that’s the level of change you can expect: a few seconds here and there rather than any major alterations.
Of the changes, only a scene between Beast and Mystique feels like it should’ve been in the cinematic version. It gives a particularly welcome follow-up to the subplots from X-Men: First Class (something the original cut did its best to skim over) and actually makes Mystique’s change of heart in the final act a little more believable. Most of the time it’s obvious why deleted scenes have been removed, but it’s hard to see why this one wasn’t left in.
It’s not until well over halfway into the film – an hour plus change – that the ‘Rogue’ cut actually features the mutant power-thief in question, and it’s this short storyline which creates the most noticeable break with the past version. In some ways, it enhances the story by giving the future X-Men something a little meatier to do – they feel less like they’re there to show you what’s at stake and more like a functioning part of the plot – but by and large, it’s not any better. It’s just different.
In narrative terms, it’s easy to see why Rogue’s scenes were removed. Essentially she uses her powers to replace an ailing Kitty Pryde during the final act and doesn’t receive any arc of her own. She’s not much more than a plot device here, and one whose presence arguably raises more questions than it answers (like why did the Sentinels leave her alive, and why did the X-Men not rescue her sooner?). The path leading to that moment gives us a little more of the original franchise members in action (though confusingly, not much of Rogue herself) which is fun for nostalgic purposes, but doesn’t do a great amount to justify the name – it’s probably McKellen’s Magneto who gets the most extra time in this cut.
Despite the many additions that expand scenes and character motivations, the film doesn’t benefit substantially in terms of its coherence, and certainly not in terms of its running time. It’s a long and complicated picture, made only more so by the added material. The extra scenes even slow it down considerably in the final act, and that’s the last thing the film needed. You don’t even get the benefit of more questions answered, because the film’s bigger continuity issues – Wolverine’s claws, Rogue’s returned powers and Kitty Pryde’s mysterious new time-travel abilities – don’t get addressed.
Still, if you enjoyed it the first time round there’s just about enough new material (17 minutes total) to justify a rewatch. That goes double if your favourite returnee got short-changed, because in this cut there’s more of almost everyone except Kitty Pryde. But if you’re looking for a film that’s better, rather than longer, you’re less likely to get that. Nothing that’s added eclipses the film’s existing highlights. It mostly just takes longer to get to where you already knew it was going.