Monday, July 28, 2008

Review: "The X-Files: I Want to Believe"

My first thought upon hearing that there would be a new X-Files film, some six years after the end of the wildly popular television series, and ten years after the last movie was "why now?" I mean seriously, way to strike while the iron's hot guys.

And the biggest problem with The X-Files: I Want to Believe (besides the horrible title) is that it doesn't give us much of a reason to care that it's back after all these years. One would think that the filmmakers would try to send out the show with a bang, one last hurrah before taking its place in television history and 90s trivia games. But instead, I Want to Believe is a chilly whimper, not a fitting way to end something as iconic as The X-Files.

However, to be fully honest, it really isn't all that bad. It isn't great, mind you, but I found myself interested in it nevertheless, as I might a movie I discovered playing on cable late one night.

I have not seen the original film, or more than a couple of episodes of the show, but I Want to Believe is able to stand more or less on its own, minus a few character details that I'm sure would have benefited from at least a basic knowledge of previous events. As the film opens, Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is working as a doctor at a Catholic hospital, working desperately to find a treatment to heal a terminally ill little boy. When the FBI comes calling with the case of a missing agent and a self-proclaimed psychic who may or may not know her whereabouts, Scully must find her old partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), to investigate the psychic and help track down the missing agent.

However, much to Scully's disgust, the self-proclaimed psychic, is a convicted pedophile named Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), who had molested some 37 altar boys before being sent to jail. But as the case becomes more tangled and the trail to the missing agent ever more grisly, Scully is forced to come to terms with her own skepticism, as those around them grow ever more doubtful of Father Crissman, who may not be what he claims to be after all.

It's surprising that after so long, a show such as The X-Files, which should have a rich pool of paranormal plot possibilities to pull from, can only come up with a relatively straightforward story of a possible psychic detective to hinge their finale on. The result is passable, but more as something you would expect to see on television than on the big screen.

The filmmakers make no effort to show us why The X-Files is still relevant, other than a few throwaway references to George W. Bush (comical, but jarringly out of place) and stem-cell research (an integral plot point that is never fully explored).

Despite it all I found myself interested in what was going on, but it's all just so unextraordinary that I couldn't help but wonder what the point was. I wanted to believe, and I did to some degree, but the ultimate result is underwhelming in the extreme. It's a shame given the potential here. It isn't bad, but it should have been so much more.

GRADE - **½ (out of four)

THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE; Directed by Chris Carter; Stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, Xzibit; Rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material

4 comments:

nick plowman said...

Yeah, I found it horribly disjointed and underdeveloped, I didn't like anything but the romantic tension between Mulder and Scully.

Ted said...

WAY OT: Found you by a cross section on people who listed Hearts In Atlantis as one of their fave flicks...What did you like about it?

X-Files should have never been cancelled, the movie had a tough act to follow.

Sam Juliano said...

OK, I saw THE X FILES earlier tonite with four of my five kids and my older cousin. I am on the same page with you as that 2 and a half star rating goes, and while (like you) I was somewhat interested in the proceedings, I found it scattered and distancing. The youngest kids were actually frightened by some of the scenes and the brooding score.
I did like a number of episodes of the show, but didn't care for the first film.

Matthew Lucas said...

I found the score rather unextraordinary as a whole, but I LOVED the piece that is playing during the first surgery with the little boy. I picked up the soundtrack for that track alone. I never saw the first film or much of the show really so I can't comment much on them, but it is all rather mundane.