X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)


I have only seen a few episodes of the series, and I basically don’t remember a thing about them. I don’t think many people will like this film, except maybe hard-core fans. Really, the review can be summed up like this: a very mediocre episode.

When you’re watching TV, sometimes a mediocre episode is fine. If you’re a hard-core fan, you probably want to see even the mediocre episodes. But why would you put this on the big screen? The movie held my attention (barely), but I gave it a three because it is clearly not a good movie.

I’m debating if I should spend time critiquing the film as there’s probably better things to do with my time. Well, I’ll try to keep it short. First let me say that I think David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are solid actors, and I didn’t really have a problem with their performances. (I was kinda impressed by Anderson).

OK, onto the problems. Where to start? The filmmakers should have showed more struggle and motivation for Mulder returning to the FBI. They just sort of gloss over this part; the FBI’s motivation to get Mulder back seems weak, too; How does Scully get approval to operate on the boy? That seems glossed over; how does Mulder get away from the dog and what was that severed arm doing there? (At this point I really didn’t care if the filmmakers had a reason or not). Finally, (and there’s more complaints, but I’ll stop here), the way Scully finds Mulder using Proverbs 25:2 is just dumb. It reminded me of the ending of Signs. The issues of faith and doubt could have been interesting in the hands of a filmmaker who understood these issues a little better.

Just saw the Roeper and Phillips review of the X-Files, which I am definitely seeing no matter what anyone says, and Phillips actually agrees with Reid that it’s not as good as the better episodes of the TV show. Roeper calls himself a casual fan and said he really liked it.

I can’t wait to see it.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe; David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson with Amanda Peet and Xzibit

First, and most important, I am not a huge X-Phile. I saw the first film before I saw any of the episodes, and then saw pretty much every episode after the film until the end of the show’s run. Therefore, I cannot compare later episodes to earlier episodes, and people who think the series went steadily downhill after the first three seasons will really not care what I think of this new movie, because I obviously like an X-Files that’s different from the X-Files they like.

Second, it’s important to understand why a person likes the X-Files if one is going to understand the person’s opinion of the film. I like science fiction, but I appreciate good writing and character-driven plots more than anything. The reasons I tuned in every Sunday to see those last few seasons of the show have more to do with Mulder and Scully than with anything else. I only vaguely understand who Cigarette Smoking Man is, and I thought the Lone Gunmen were one of the best parts of the last couple of seasons. Scully’s struggle with her Catholicism is much, much more interesting to me than Mulder’s search for a father or sister. Mulder’s compulsion is interesting and endearing, but Scully’s constant struggle to reconcile faith and science is what made the show for me.

And yes, I did want them to get together.

Grace, who has every episode on VHS and can tell you who the writers of each episode were, asked the best question before she asked me what I thought of the film: What was my favorite episode of the X-Files television series? I laughed, because I know that my favorite episode is one of her least-favorite: The baseball-playing alien episode that David Duchovny directed. A real X-Phile, I think, can tell a lot about a person based on his or her favorite episode of the series.

It should be clear, then, that the joy for me was going to be in connecting with these two characters again. Connecting again after six years, to my satisfaction, was going to have to involve some kind of character growth that made sense, and either a satisfactory resolution of the issues that compelled the characters in the past or a believable continuation of these same issues.

You’ve heard the snippets in television commercials, mostly from Scully: “I don’t work with Fox Mulder anymore,” and “I’m through chasing shadows in the dark!” Yeah, baby. Tell me about it, and don’t leave out any details, you know? Let’s hear it. What are you doing now, and why?

So the story is secondary. The characters are primary.

I liked the film. There are a few elements of the plot that seemed kinda silly or maybe ridiculous, but the story itself was compelling and interesting. The characters’ reactions to each other and to the developments in the plot, not to mention the directions the plot takes as a result of the characters’ actions and personalities, are more than satisfying. The acting is pretty solid, especially from Gillian Anderson and Amanda Peet. I liked Xzibit, and Duchovny was his usual dry self. The critics, even those who don’t like the film, seem to agree that there is pleasure in seeing the characters again.

That’s really quite enough for me. I’ll give it a solid 7 out of 10, hoping (seemingly against hope) for a third film.

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