Thursday, July 24, 2008

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

We're Ready To Believe You

It's not hard to imagine how time flies, when you realize that one of your best loved television series of all time had already ended its run, and you reminisce the times back when one of your weekend nights revolved around sitting in a bunk with your army mates, all glued to what Chris Carter had conjured as adventures for the two best known goggle box FBI agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). While we always needed to crank up the volume to try and make sense of the murmurs involving shadow governments and secret conspiracies, our favourite episodes almost unanimously were those one-off ones, so called the "monster" episodes.

And it's been 6 years since The End, and 10 years since the first X-Files movie hit the screen. While that movie was intricately linked to the major conspiracy thread, this movie, as the trailer led us to believe, was a one-off monster episode, or so I thought. While it's indeed a one-off episode, it's no monster of an episode in the mould of those in the television series, though it really felt like an extended, stand alone episode which gave us a slightly more in depth look at the dynamics of our beloved duo, especially what happened to them in the last few years they went off the FBI radar. But as the saying goes, you can't put a good man, and a lady, down for too long.

This is a story about obsession. As we all know, Mulder's obsessed with everything X-classifiable, and in the years of absence, here comes an opportunity for a breath of fresh air when Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) comes knocking to seek his expertise, as the FBI now has a case on their hands and a psychic, convicted pedophile of a Catholic Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) who volunteers key information to help in that case. The FBI isn't sure if Father Crissman is a liar, or worse, connected to the crime, and hence Mulder's help is to be their lie-detector. Naturally with religion and her usual cynicism in the mix, Scully is disgusted by the sheer presence of the religious felon, and thus set the stage for some conflict with her beau.

Like an old, quarreling couple who can't seem to give way to each other, their philosophies clash as their interests - Scully battling the hospital system to save her young chronically ill patient - differ, and threaten to pull the couple apart. He thinks that she's not being supportive of his venturing into an X-case even though they're now civilians, while she thinks he's latching onto Father Crissman to use his prowess, if proven true, to find Samantha Mulder. Which I thought would probably make an excellent sub plot, but alas the potential was dangled like a carrot in front of us, and then went totally off tangent.

Don't expect any big sets or intricate subplots here, as it really looked like it's done on a shoestring budget, with the look and feel of a typical classic television episode, a two-parter in fact. There are strange aberrations of course, but all these go unexplained, and you know they're just going to be glossed over since everything will be wrapped up by the time the end credits roll. However, there are adequate moments to keep you at the edge of your seat, and some developments do enough to leave your mouth gaping wide open, especially those involving extreme medicine.

David Duchovny does look more comfortable reprising his role as Mulder, but Gillian Anderson, as interviews have revealed, required a lot more time trying to get back into character, and this uneasiness unfortunately shows on screen. The chemistry's still not lacking, but given that their respective characters have aged and grown more comfortable with one another, gone are the tensions between them, though the problems that surface here did try to rekindle some of the opposition they felt during the course of their long running series.

Chris Carter and X-Files regular scribe Frank Spotnitz did incorporate a nice surprise in the movie, so do keep your eyes peeled as you will silently cheer when it happens. But I thought what was a ghastly way to bid farewell, was the little coda toward the end of the credit roll, which somewhat signals the finale of everything, though in a very out of place manner. Anyhow, this X-Files movie episode isn't going to win any new fans over, but for X-philes, I'd bet we're probably just satisfied already with our heroes appearing in celluloid one more time, that no matter how wafer thin the plot is, it's not going to dampen our collective fan spirit.

And to thank our lucky stars that Mark Snow's iconic theme song, didn't get played in the movie under the horrific techno rendition.

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