July 14th 2015 was a date that changed everything. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but it’s a date I was looking forward to for over a year. It was the day the X-Men: Days of Future Past Rogue cut was released. If you don’t know, the Rogue cut is an extended cut of DoFP which includes 20 or so minutes of material not in the theatrical release. Most of the unseen footage focuses mainly on Patrick Stewart’s Professor X (who amazingly hasn’t aged since his days on ST:TNG) and everybody’s favourite Ugg boot wearing pensioner Ian Mckellan’s Magneto rescuing Rogue from those dastardly Sentinels.
While I loved the theatrical cut of DoFP, I felt the scenes that take place in 2023 and the cast of the original X-Men trilogy were short-changed when compared to the new younger cast members in the 1970’s. Thankfully the Rogue cut gives avid fans like me more of the 2023 scenes and Halle Berry’s Storm gets another line of dialogue (3 lines total)!
We were told these scenes were cut for pacing and for the most part I believe that but I honestly think that Anna Paquin’s scenes as the aforementioned Rogue may have been cut due to her appalling acting. It’s hard to believe that Paquin won an Academy Award when you see her with the same stony faced expression and delivery in all her scenes whether she is being rescued from her torturers, running from Sentinels, watching Iceman die (his second death in the film) and then telling Kitty Pryde of said death. Overall I like the added scenes and I’m glad I waited for this cut of the film instead of buying the theatrical version on release and then double-dipping to get this cut too. Although if you’ve already got DoFP on Blu-ray then there probably isn’t much point in buying this new cut unless you are a huge X-Men fan.
The release of the Rogue cut got me thinking about extended editions in general. Is an extended cut of a film on home entertainment better than simply putting the cut moments as deleted scenes in the special features menu on the Blu-ray? There are definite arguments and examples for both sides of the debate.
The majority of extended editions are nothing more than cash-ins. A ploy and advertising strategy to make someone buy the home entertainment release of a film they saw at the cinema. You see examples of this all the time on the shelves of HMV, or most probably Amazon nowadays, and they are normally comedies, horror or action films promising to show you what you couldn’t see at the cinema. We all know, or should know, that this is complete bollocks and the added material is usually a couple of extra lines of dialogue in the horror movies (and a bad alternate ending), a couple of F-bombs in comedies and in action movies such as the sequels to Taken, the film is altered to include some awful computer generated blood splatter whenever some terrorists get shot in the throat.
On the other end of the spectrum are The Lord of the Rings and, more recently, The Hobbit extended editions. I’m a big, big fan of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga and yet each year for the past three I have held off buying the Blu-rays because I know the extended editions are coming in November. To call them extended editions is a bit of a disservice. The films are extended by a whopping 45 minutes (on average) but in the five disc sets you also get a huge amount of special features including a 3 and a half hour documentary with production values just as good as the fantasy movies themselves. Releasing these extended editions a whole six months after the regular Blu-rays does seem like a ploy to get fans to double dip but Peter Jackson himself (who also records an insightful and funny commentary with writing partner Philippa Boyens for each film) says not to buy the normal home entertainment release and wait for the extended.
Some of the other best extended editions are films within the Alien franchise which began with the seminal Ridley Scott film Alien in 1979. The director’s cut of Alien is actually a couple of minutes shorter than the theatrical cut because Scott took out some scenes early on in the film to add pace and includes a scene later on in which Ripley discovers Dallas turning into an Alien egg. The Alien Queen, as seen in Aliens, means this is no longer canon and so the director’s cut of the first film is pretty much irrelevant. The special edition cut of Aliens is now the preferred cut of the film and is the only version I’ve seen. It includes the famous sentry guns and is the only version now shown on TV when the film is on Film4 every couple of days. Alien 3 gets a bad rep and the original cut which was edited after director David Fincher left the project is pretty bad. Whoever thought that having most of the characters bald and speak with English accents needs to be decapitated. I know the actors Paul McGann and Pete Postlethwaite are but even I struggle to distinguish them in that film; it’s just a weird, weird movie. The extended cut, which features remastered footage which gives up 20 minutes of footage from the middle of the film and some new ADR is actually pretty good. Let’s not talk about Alien: Resurrection; extended edition or not. Maybe it’s a good idea after all that Neill Blomkamp’s new film is going to discount the last two Alien films.
Just last week everybody’s favourite nerd director, Joss Whedon, claimed that we will not be getting a director’s cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron this autumn with the home entertainment release. I hate the term director’s cut because surely the film released at the cinema is the director’s cut because the director decided on that specific cut. I think that the answer to whether there should be a re-cut extended edition or just deleted scenes in the special features is that the decision should be up to the director. So I’m completely fine to watch the missing scenes separately if that’s what Whedon wants just as I was happy to watch an Extended version of DoFP because it was Bryan Singer’s decision to make such a cut.
What are some of your favourite extended editions? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @kylebrrtt where, if you’re lucky, I’ll tweet once a week. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and give the Out of Lives Facebook page a like. Until next week, so long.