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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Movie title: The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13
Director: Chris Carter
Producers: Chris Carter, (Exec.) Brent O'Connor, Frank Spotnitz
Starring: David Duchovny “Fox Mulder,” Gillian Anderson “Dr. Dana Scully,” Amanda Peet “ASAC Dakota Whitney,” Billy Connolly “Father Joseph Crissman,” Alvin 'Xzibit' Joiner “Agent Mosley Drummy,” Mitch Pileggi “Walter Skinner,” Adam Godley “Father Ybarra”
Genre: Scifi/Mystery/Thriller/Action
Summation: Mulder and Scully investigate the claims of a Catholic priest who claims to have seen visions of a captured FBI agent.
Spoilers ahead: No

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One of the biggest complaints from those like me who aren’t big fans of The X-Files is that the constant cooking up of superstition is too much. It’d be nice if the laws of average applied in the X-files world and hoaxers and scam artists at least once in a while would take credit for something and prey off of the gullibility of the masses like they do in the real world.

But in The X-Files, they never do. Everything is supernatural. The series (both movies and the television episodes) is a conglomeration of nearly every myth and legend in existence. When the layers of woo-woo-ism and pseudo-scientific claptrap are pulled back, there’s nothing left, which causes a lot of us to only watch once in a great while when there’s nothing else on the tube at four in the morning.

Now that the second X-Files movie is out, it partially takes what I’m saying and runs with it. Only, it runs too far in the other direction! I would love nothing more than to be able to stretch forth my hand and congratulate director Chris Carter on a job well done in cutting down on the stockpiles of superstition that so many X-Files fans blindly love, but I can’t.

In The X-Files: I Want to Believe, we get just a touch of the supernatural and the development of a humble disappearance mystery, but not much more. The material is good—good for a run-of-the-mill episode of the show, but not for a movie. The content isn’t earth-shattering enough for that, and it fails to tie in with any previous mysteries of the show. It just starts over like any other episode would, and that makes it most underwhelming as a film.

It was nice to see an expansion of the relationship between Mulder and Scully. It was good to see the two reconnect with their FBI roots. But what we get after that is a lukewarm glass of milk.

The plot, though solidly constructed and richly endowed, is shallow. Nothing big is going on. Mulder and Scully must work with a defunct Catholic priest who contacted the FBI claiming to have seen visions of one of their agents. This puts them on the trail of the whereabouts of certain missing persons, and that leads to the uncovering of a criminal organization of human organ traffickers. That is what the entire movie is about.

The same mystic vs. skeptic dynamic exists between Mulder and Scully, though you would think that she’d have learned after all these years of working together that in the X-Files world, Mulder is always right!

The acting is sharp and the dialogue is just as you remember it with anything X-Files—technically alluring and always mesmerizing. Later on in the movie, Mitch Pileggi comes back as Walter Skinner.

The development of the story keeps you watching and interested, and is right in harmony with what you’d expect from the X-Files all the way through the end. Nothing wrong there. It’s the miniscule scope of the movie that is the problem.

What little it does, it does very well. It’s a really good movie, just not a good X-Files movie. That’s why the fans aren’t happy. As well as the movie was made, it remains a grave disappointment that more was not accomplished in building on the already laid foundation of the running X-Files storyline.

And as much as I’d love to compliment Carter on toning down the outrageous employment of the supernatural, this still doesn’t give loyal X-Files viewers what they want because it doesn’t tie together anything beyond a backyard law enforcement mystery.

Devoted fans of The X-Files are ultimately looking for one thing in the series, and that is the advancement of the series’ theme: “The Truth is Out There.” They want to know what it all means; they want to see where everything leads. Unfortunately, not much truth was revealed on this leg of the journey.

What happened here, Chris?

(JH)

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