The X Files: I Want To Believe

Director    Chris Carter
Starring    David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, Xzibit
Release    25 JUL (US) 1 AUG (UK)    Certificate 15
2 stars


2nd August 2008

Aliens. Victor Tooms. Government cover-ups and black goo. That fish-faced sewer mutant thing. All reasons to tune in to The X Files TV show every week, and all conspicuous by their absence in this disappointing second big-screen X Files outing. For Mulder and Scully's movie reunion, the story is more in line with the singular 'monster of the week' type episodes; a totally original storyline that, while perhaps of interest to viewers who felt the show's conspiracy-based plotlines wore out their welcome, will likely alienate (hoho) anyone looking for a quick fix of extra-terrestrial entertainment. Shame on you, Chris Carter - ten years after the last movie and this is the best you can come up with?

If you, like me, jumped ship on the show in its twilight years (around about the time the T-1000 joined the FBI) then some of the details of Mulder and Scully's relationship may be a little foggy. Hit Wikipedia before you venture here, because there are very few concession to the series' finer points, other than a few neat musical nods and a pointless last reel cameo. Fact is, there's little that makes this feel like an X Files movie other than the presence of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Dana Scully is now Dr. Dana Scully, a physician at a Catholic hospital, treating a poorly young child called Christian (paging Dr. Subtle). Her rounds are interrupted by a pair of FBI agents - played by Amanda Peet and rapper Xzibit - who need Scully's help in locating Fox Mulder. Turns out a paedophile priest called Father Joe (Connolly) had a psychic vision that led to cops discovering a dismembered arm out in the Virginia snow, and they need Spooky Mulder's know-how to figure out how. Within minutes, man of faith hooks back up with woman of science, and the X Files are (as good as) re-opened.

The movie's relatively low budget (allegedly around $30m) is obvious throughout: locations are re-used, set dressing is sparse, support casting is unadventurous. In fact, I Want To Believe barely looks like a movie at all, feeling more like a well-polished episode than the event movie fans so desperately desired. The plot is nothing to write home about; a cross between psychic mumbo-jumbo (merely a catalyst for more of Mulder and Scully's endless debating) and grandstanding gore that's crying out for something - anything - of interest to casual viewers.

Even Duchovny and Anderson seem subdued; their once sizzling sexual chemistry is now reduced to the occasional fizz and splutter. Mulder's hangdog humour is channelled into some cringeworthy paedo jokes, while Scully's intelligent air evaporates when she Googles "stem cell research" just hours before performing the surgery herself. Anderson, still foxy at 40, is now lumbered with a lame duck of a character; despite the fact that she spent nine years ankle deep in alien slime and shape-shifting mutants, she still doesn't believe. There's no changing some people, I guess.

Yes, hardcore fans will get a nerdy thrill from seeing their idols back together again after six empty years of wet dreams and fan fiction. But even the apologists will have to admit that this is not the X Files movie they'd hoped for. Carter's decision to jettison the show's conspiracy angle in favour of bog-standard murder mystery reads as an admission that there was no place else to go with the characters. And hell, if the creator of the show seems bored with the concept, then why should you still be interested? Ali

More:  Sci-Fi  Drama  Thriller
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