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The X-Files: I Want to Believe – Slipping Into Those Old Paranoias

Posted by goldwriting on July 25, 2008

So this website shows all the people I’ve had sex with on my new show, Californication. Why couldn’t Chris Carter have been this cool?

The darkened theater, the echoing tones, the eerie music…then the red, circled X. We were back, back in the land of Chris Carter and his worldwide phenom, The X-Files. The added bonus of seeing this on opening night was the cheering and hollering the moment that iconic music started up. There was an energy flowing through the crowd (and no, it was not psychically induced by little aliens). We the fans of the original show have long missed the vocal monotone of David Duchovny and the serious, yet longing glances from Gillian Anderson. In the time since the last movie we have learned to trust again, stopped questioning what we see in front of us and let our belief go that someone somewhere is pulling the gossamer over our eyes. I was ready to be woken up, like Neo in The Matrix. I was ready to be told to believe once again in everything they told me not to.

But that didn’t happen.

Early on, director Chris Carter let us in on the fact the story was not going to continue any of the government conspiracy storylines, no alien abductions and certainly no bounty hunters from other worlds. The movie is a self-contained story which comes off the screen feeling like a normal episode of the show. Let me emphasize that, a normal episode, not a particularly good one. In a startling shift from the previous X-Files movie, this take on it was much smaller in scale and scope. It all centers around a small town over a three to four day period where young women are turning up missing and one happens to be an FBI agent, which prompts the bureau to re-enlist the help of the now defunct and retired Agent Mulder. Once the scent of the unknown and unsolved gets back under the skin of Mulder, he can’t be expected to do anything but solve the case and drag Scully along kicking and screaming.

Beyond the shallow and partially childish plot, the movie gives us a glimpse into what life has been like for our intrepid duo of non-believers since the show came to an end. The whole time the show was running all we ever wanted was for them to get together, but seeing them interact like an old married couple now just feels off the mark. There’s no spark there anymore, no playful flirting and it slips off the screen like a pair of roommates trying to figure out who gets to watch their favorite show tonight. Also, picking up the story after so many years they might have done a better job of letting us catch up to where they were in the relationship, but in two quick scenes and some semi-forced exposition we were forced to get in or jump off.

Surrounding our trenchcoated agents were Amanda Peet and Xzibit, playing two of the FBI agents who brought them on the case. Amanda wants to believe and seemingly did her homework on Mulder, but Xzibit’s character is not only against the inclusion of Mulder, he also bears a resentment and complete disbelief in his skills, which is never explained in the least bit. A number of other little moments flitter around the two newer agents and how they handle the old pros, but many of them are set-ups that never pay off. Billy Connolly turns in a decent performance as a pedophile priest with psychic abilities (you’d think he would have seen himself getting caught). He tries incredibly hard to make the character deep and interesting, but once again there feels like something is missing once the movie is resolved.

As the credits began to roll, I started to wonder if this would have worked better as a major TV movie event. They could have sold a ton of advertising and possibly garnered enough interest to re-launch the franchise with Peet and Xzibit as the new agents, but they went the theater route and we’ll just see if that pays off. This ends up being a fun walk down memory lane for the true fan of the show, who will surely get a kick out of one particular cameo (I’m not saying who…what would be the fun in that?) but for the rest of the world, or those who have finally moved on with their lives, this could easily be waited on until it comes on TV.

p.s. Personally, I’m just proud of myself for not starting this review with, “I wanted to believe this was going to be a good movie.” I’m going to keep a running tally of how many times that pops up.

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