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Monday, July 28, 2008

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

During its nine-season run on television, The X-Files was one of the best places to watch matters of science and religion tangle on camera. Skeptical scientist Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) constantly challenged FBI partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) on his belief in what the show lovingly referred to as “extreme possibilities”—aliens, the paranormal, and such. At its best, the Fox drama dabbled in areas as diverse as multiverse theory and faith healing with a isn’t-this-cool? sense of wonder.
Unfortunately, that joyful exploration of the inexplicable is absent from The X-Files: I Want To Believe, director Chris Carter’s second celluloid outing based on the show. The first film, The X-Files: Fight The Future, hit theaters during the series’ run and dealt with a government conspiracy to cover up alien presence on Earth. As such, Mulder and Scully were up to their security badges in the us-against-them fight that continued until the series finale in 2002. Her Catholic faith, paired with her training as a medical doctor, made her the perfect foil for his cocky, outlandish genius. They may have been the “FBI’s most unwanted,” as Mulder liked to joke, but their joint search for truth provided the momentum that kept their professional (and ultimately romantic) story moving forward. Even when we last left the paranoid pair, they were on the lam from an FBI gunning to shut down Mulder’s quest for good.
I Want To Believe picks up six years after the finale, during a bleak West Virginia winter that serves as a gruesome serial killer’s canvas. When a defrocked priest (Billy Connolly) suddenly begins having visions of the murderer’s victims, the FBI contacts Scully—now a doctor at a Catholic hospital straight out of the 1960s—in the hopes of luring Mulder and his atypical insight back to the fold. Though our heroes have sworn off fighting crime, they’re sucked in with relatively little resistance. Too bad the fight’s gone right out of both of them, leaving behind weary protagonists who love each other but would rather be done with the larger mysteries of the universe and human nature.
Amanda Peet and rapper Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner play secondary roles as FBI agents searching for one of their own but serve little purpose; each part’s lines could have been divvied up among no-name actors with audiences none the wiser. On the other hand, series regular Mitch Pileggi both forwards the plot and plays right into an homage to the first movie during his brief scenes as Deputy Director Walter Skinner. Ultimately, though, whether or not the good guys will figure out the killer’s plan—and how it may or may not overlap with Scully’s recent interest in stem cell research—becomes secondary to whether Mulder and Scully can ever truly be happy. For those who always wanted to see those kooky kids settle down, I Want To Believe is a sweet resting point. But fans who enjoyed watching the pair spar over everything from little green (or is it gray?) men to past-life regression may want to hold out hope: The truth, and another sequel, may still be out there.


scituate said...

Nice looking blog. I think the aliens and government conspiracies were more exciting for fans, but I'm glad they didn't rehash all that this time. Not a great film but I enjoyed spending one more evening with M & S.