"THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
David Duchovny as FOX MULDER
Gillian Anderson as DR. DANA SCULLY
Amanda Peet as DAKOTA WHITNEY
Billy Connolly as FATHER JOSEPH CRISSMAN
Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner as MOSLEY DRUMMY
Mitch Pileggi as WALTER SKINNER
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Chris Carter
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Back in the late 1990s, I was a huge fan of “The X-Files.” Even as late as 1998 when the first film came out, I followed the adventures of Mulder and Scully every Friday night on FOX.
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However, after that first film, my interest waned. I stopped watching the show, and with the exception of enjoying “The Lone Gunmen” on DVD a few years ago, I hadn’t thought much about the show. I didn’t know how it ended, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode featuring Robert Patrick.
I suppose I am a good gauge for a general (i.e., non-fan) opinion of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” I caught the movie this summer in the theaters, but I wasn’t very impressed with it. I had been hoping for a story that fell into the overall mythology of the series. After all, isn’t that what we got with “Fight the Future” ten years ago?
I suppose the filmmakers’ painstaking attempts to keep the story secret worked a little too much for this movie. I, like many moviegoers this summer, was disappointed in the rather run-of-the-mill storyline of this film.
In this movie, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is called out of retirement by his friend and lover Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who has also left the FBI to pursue her medical career. The two former X-Files agents are challenged with finding a missing FBI agent. They seek help from a pedophile priest named Father Joe (Billy Connelly), who leads them to a grisly crime ring involving organ trafficking, kidnapping and murder.
Part of the disappointment I felt while seeing this film in the theater is that the movie didn’t hold the same friendly tone from the television series. It was darker and murkier, and I didn’t enjoy spending time with the characters, as I had on Friday nights more than ten years ago.
In the bonus material on the DVD, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz explain that they wanted to go for the monster-of-the-week type of story. However, the monster is less of the X-Files monster (which covered everything from vampires to chupacabras on television) and more of a human monster from the era of torture porn films.
Additionally, Mulder and Scully had lost a lot of their freshness. They brood throughout the film and don’t offer much hope for anyone... anywhere. New characters are somewhat interesting, such as Amanda Peet as agent Dakota Whitney, but she’s buffered by the godawful acting of Xzibit as a completely abrasive FBI agent in charge.
Upon watching the film again on DVD, I found some love for it. Now that I wasn’t expecting a true “X-Files” story, I swallowed the story better. It did make me interested in catching the last few years of the series on DVD, which might show up on my rental queue sometime soon. But even then, this movie serves more of a tease for the rest of the long-gone show rather than a standalone piece of entertainment.
The two-disc DVD actually contains more interesting material than the film itself. It comes with an extended cut of the film (which only adds two unnoticeable minutes to the run time) and a feature-length documentary about the making of the movie. I’m a big fan of these feature-length making-of films added to DVDs. We’ve seen some awesome work on the film “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” as well as the re-release of “The Godfather” films. It’s this kind of bonus material that really makes a DVD worth picking up off the shelves.
The only problem with this documentary is that it reveals how far the crew went to keep the movie secret. Ultimately, this worked against them because the blogosphere soon turned their back on the movie, and it lost all of its buzz. Add this to the fact that the leaked fake plot about a werewolf conspiracy was actually better than the one they used in the film. If Carter and Spotnitz had spent as much time working on a worthy storyline for the film as they did trying to sabotage internet spoilers and spy reports, they might have actually had a hit on their hands.
Other special features include a gag reel, two deleted scenes, a look at the gore effects, a feature commentary by Carter and Spotnitz, an Xzibit music video, still galleries, trailers, a preachy anti-smoking PSA and another needless preach by Chris Carter explaining how the film had gone green.