There’s been a very noticeable and interesting struggle in the 2014 summer movie lineup – specifically in regards to movie runtimes. Blockbuster tentpoles like Godzilla, Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past have all been edited down to fit more lucrative runtime windows, arguably at the cost of more coherent and/or exciting cinematic experiences. Meanwhile, on the other side of things, a film like Transformers: Age of Extinction runs at near three hours of semi-coherent mayhem, but I digress…
In the case of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the biggest deleted sequence of note is that of Anna Paquin’s Rogue, who was all but cut from the theatrical version of the movie, save for one key cameo appearance at the end. As seen in the very first Days of Future Past trailers, however, Rogue was originally more integral to both the plight and salvation of the future X-Men.
Having been captured by human and Sentinel forces, experimentation on Rogue was supposed to be the source of the Sentinels’ ability absorption powers (see that HERE). Iceman and Magneto were subsequently going to stage a mid-film jailbreak to rescue Rogue, who would serve as backup for Kitty Pryde, after Pryde was injured in Wolverine’s tantrum after seeing the young William Stryker during the Paris Peace Accord.
Obviously that sub-plot would’ve required a lot more screen time devoted to the future era – meaning an overall runtime closer to three hours, rather than the efficient 2 hour 11 minute feature we got in theaters. The sequence – which as stated was teased in early trailers – was pushed from the film, but one can only surmise that it’ll be a bigger feature of the X-Men: Days of Future Past director’s cut, which we can now officially confirm is happening:
Now, back when we asked whether or not seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with deleted scenes added back in would make a difference, most people felt that there wouldn’t be enough redemption in getting an extended version of the film. But with Days of Future Past, we have a feeling that popular opinion could be very different:
One could spin an entirely new article out of the debate over how long a movie should or should not be (never more than 90 minutes? As long as it needs to be? etc…), but one thing is for sure: Summer 2014 has shown us several examples of studios feeling the need to trim down a director’s film – and not all of those calls have been intrinsically good ones.
In my own review of X-Men: Days of Future Past I felt that one of the only uneven point of the film was the middle, where the future era is abandoned for a lengthy stint in the ’70s. To me, there was momentum loss in that stretch – momentum that could’ve been carried by Magneto and Iceman (two major franchise characters otherwise given little to do in the film) in the midst of another awesome future action sequence. In short: the extra screen time would’ve been worthwhile.
Of course there are the usual other factors that affect these situations – the biggest being the careful calculations that go into determining how many times a movie can play in the business hours of a movie theater. Two-hour movies tend to get more plays than a three-hour movie (natch), so from a numbers standpoint, two hours and extra plays are the favorable bet. But again, the question is: should that pragmatic outlook come at the expense of cinematic vision?
For every great movie that is appreciated for both its longer and shorter versions (LotR, Apocalypse Now) there are handful of others that would’ve been tragedies if they had been cut down from three hours to two (say, for example, The Godfather). That’s not to mention the rare case of a director’s cut which inevitably goes on to overshadow its theatrical counterpart (Daredevil, Aliens).
In the end, as always, people just want great experiences from their movies. Who knows: maybe we’ll get Rogue back only to find out that X-Men: Days of Future Past was better off without her all along. Or maybe we’ll have an even better X-Men movie experience on our hands. I’m not really seeing the downside.
X-Men: Days of Future Past hits DVD/Blu-ray likely in fall 2014 – in both the theatrical and director’s cut versions.