X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The Rogue Cut
Running time: 148 minutes approx
Logan/Wolverine – Hugh Jackman
Charles Xavier – James McAvoy
Professor X – Patrick Stewart
Eric Lehnsherr – Michael Fassbender
Magneto – Ian McKellen
Raven/Mystique – Jennifer Lawrence
Hank/Beast – Nicholas Houlter
Bolivar Trask – Peter Dinklage
Storm – Halle Berry
Peter – Evan Peters
Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Simon Kinsberg
Mutants are being hunted across the globe by Sentinels, giant robots capable of changing their nature to combat the talents of those they are hunting, making them hugely effective. Only a small band of mutants remain free under the combined leadership of Professor X and Magneto, previously sworn enemies. A desperate plan is hatched to send Wolverine’s consciousness back into his younger self in the swinging sixties to persuade the others to combine their forces to prevent one man from creating the Sentinels by stopping him from capturing Mystique.
The fortunes of the X-Men franchise has been something of a rollercoaster ride. The first was good, the second better, the third a distinct step down in quality. Then a prequel, X-Men:Third Class reset the bar by telling the story of how Professor X and Magneto became enemies in their early days, how Mystique left one for the other and how one became confined to a wheelchair.
Now comes X-Men:Days of Future Past, an ambitious attempt to combine the two previous strands of storyline into one cohesive whole, bringing the two casts together, well sort of.
This is a review of ‘The Rogue Cut’, an extended version of the film recently released on DVD and Blu Ray, but we’ll come to what that means in a minute. Firstly, let’s deal with the film as a whole. It’s slick and stylish and thoroughly entertaining. It’s every inch a worthy entrant into the expanding Marvel Cinema Universe, even though it is apart from that through the contractual wranglings of separate franchises. Suffice to say that fans of superhero movies will not be disappointed.
They will, however, have had to have seen at least the previous entry into the X-Men series and preferably a couple of the earlier ones if they expect to keep up with what is going on. The relationship between Professor X and Magneto is key, as is the relationship between Mystique and them both. Without the background, much of the deeper sense will be lost.
That said, there is enough spectacle to go around. The future sequences are all bravura action sequences as the Sentinels close in on the mutants, who can no longer run away if their plan is to succeed. In the past, there is a lot of plot to get through, but a dense plotline and some deeper characterisation is what has kept interest in this franchise going even through the lesser movies.
It’s all held together by Hugh Jackman as Logan, aka Wolverine. He has always been the centre of the movies and so it continues here, but there is a strong supporting cast that stops any of the mis-steps that have dogged the Wolverine-only standalone movies. Jennifer Lawrence is promoted to a key player in this plotline, the focus of all the attention, and she steps up to handle the added pressure with aplomb. Her Mystique is a fiercely independent woman with fascinating flaws and facets. Add to that the continuing intensity of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the young Professor X and Magneto, and the lugubrious experience of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as their older counterparts and there is certainly no shortage on the acting front. The plot also allows for them to use those skills to great effect, creating characters who are fully rounded and make you care about them. The coup of adding Peter Dinklage as Traske, would be creator of the Sentinels, is simply icing on the cake. Nicholas Hoult is solid as the Beast and Evan Peters gets a chance to standout as the speedy Quicksilver. Other characters such as Storm, Rogue, Iceman and Kitty Pryde get short shrift by comparison. As mentioned earlier, that’s an awful lot of people and background to get a hold of if you are not familiar with the earlier films, but for established fans it is a veritable cornucopia of plenty.
So to ‘The Rogue Cut’. This expands on a smaller aspect of the plot whereby the character Rogue is required to keep the plan from failing. The subplot about her rescue from Professor X’s mansion was excised from the original cinematic cut and is reinstated here. The question is whether the reinstatement is worth you shelling out more of your hard-earned cash for a film that you might already have. The answer is a resounding ‘no’. If you don’t already have the film, then getting ‘The Rogue Cut’ is a sensible move since it gives you the whole story, but the reason that it was originally excised was presumably because of timing. It adds little to the sense of the story and having seen both we were not left thinking that the original was in any way inferior. The inclusion doesn’t actually make the experience any worse (a couple of dodgy effects shots aside, which have been unfinished because they were taken out of the movie, aside), but it doesn’t really add that much either. If you already own the movie, then you won’t be gaining much by buying it again (unless you are an Anna Paquin fan or an X-Men completist anyway).
Whichever cut you go for, X-Men:Days of Future Past is an exciting continuation of the saga and sets things up nicely for more films to follow.
We do wish that the original comic designs for the Sentinels could have been used, though. They would have been so much better than the plastic things that appear. Maybe someone can be sent back in time and put that right.