Friday, August 1, 2008

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

This movie had a lot going against it. And I mean a lot. It opened the week after The Dark Knight, which had the biggest opening weekend of all time, marketing was virtually non-existent, and the TV show ended 6 years ago, barely limping to the finish the line. The movie was really made as a sort of closure for X-Files fans. The big question, however, was are there any X-Files fans still out there. The answer is a somewhat muffled yes.

The movie plays out as a somewhat mediocre self-contained episode. All the deep seeded governmental conspiracies, alien invasions, and secret organizations that were so embedded in most of the series, and was full integrated into the first movie have long dissipated. This movie focuses more on the human side and the relationship of (former) FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).

The movie opens in classic X-Files fashion. A team of FBI agents are being led through a snow covered field by what appears to be a psychic. Our questions are answered, and more are posed with the discovery of a severed arm in the snow. This leads to an investigation regarding a missing agent and a rather grisly underground operation. The bizarre nature of the case forces the FBI to enlist help from our favorite former agents. The contrast between the two immediately comes back into play with Scully relying strictly on science, and Mulder putting all of his faith in the psychic from the beginning, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) who happened to have been convicted pedophilia, ending his former career. This results in conflict between Mulder and just about everyone else.

Mulder and Scully's counterparts who are currently at the FBI are played by Amanda Peet and Xzibit. They have some pretty big shoes to fill. Peet does an ample job of actually creating another Scully- skeptical yet oddly attracted to Mulder's ideas. Xzibit on the other hand looks really out of place here. It's tough to come from hosting Pimp My Ride to being an FBI agent. He was all force without the finesse of the other characters. Anderson and Duchovny, despite what they claimed in interviews, seemed like they slipped right back into the roles as if no time had passed.

One of the major revelations in the movie is that we finally get closure regarding Mulder and Scully's relationship. We see early on that, yes, they are indeed together. Anyone who watched the show knows that the series was filled with sexual tension between the two from day one. This causes conflict between them when Scully wants to stay out of the FBI's matters, and Mulder wants to jump right back into it. Mulder's infatuation with Father Joseph also puts him at odds with Scully's righteous religious beliefs, and her hatred for what the man did. Clearly, this movie focused much more on their human side than on their detecting side. Don't get me wrong, there was no shortage of creepy moments, it was just much more subdued than the visual effects show than many may have expected.

Director and show creator Chris Carter threw little tidbits to fans. Most of these were unnecessary, but were still appreciated. There's a scene with Mulder talking about his sister who had been abducted by aliens when he was young, Scully wrestling with memories of having to give up her son, and even an appearance by their old boss, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) one of the favorite characters from the show. None of these really had any baring on the plot of the movie, which was fairly thin. They simply said to the fans "we're thinking of you."

As I've made pretty obvious, I loved the show- even the last few seasons after Duchovny left. So of course I liked the movie. They could have played nothing but the theme song for two hours and I would have gone. If you weren't a fan of the show, you may not be drawn in. But chances are, it you weren't a fan of the show, this probably wasn't high on your summer movie list anyway. The filmmakers knew this, so they decided to go with a relatively low budget and make it for those who were interested. I enjoyed the movie to no end, but in the interest of being unbiased, I'll have to say that some parts were a bit thin. If you did like the show, however, go see it, they need the support.


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