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X Files – I Want to Believe

By Willie Krischke — August 1, 2008.

When it was on TV, “X-Files” episodes divided into two categories: the “Mythology” episodes, about the government conspiracy and aliens and Cigarette Smoking Man and Mulder’s sister and the alien bounty hunter (the longer the series went, the more complicated – and ridiculous – the conspiracy became) and then the “Monster of the Week” episodes, in which Mulder and Scully investigate garden variety monsters or supernatural occurrences. These were often a welcome break from the mythology and included quite a few of the best episodes (“Eve,” “Humbug,” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” to name a few.) Having officially laid the conspiracy to rest with the (underwhelming) series finale, “X Files: I Want to Believe” is of the Monster of the Week variety. But if it had been an episode of the TV show, it would not have been one of my favorites. The whole thing feels deflated and uninspired. Perhaps Chris Carter is ready to move on to other projects. Perhaps he already has.

It is fun to see Mulder and Scully again – I, like many, watched the show so much and for so long, they feel like old friends, and the new lines on their faces make this moviegoing experience feel like a reunion of sorts. Gillian Anderson is a top-notch actress who turns in a fine performance here, and David Duchovny, though not really of Anderson’s caliber, brings that mischevious curiosity and deadpan wit that was so sorely missed from the show when he left. Chris Carter allows them, for the first time, to actually have an adult relationship; they can actually say what they mean to each other these days. Some will find this boring, others, more deep and interesting. The way the movie is written and directed, it’s clear that these characters, their relationship, and how they’ve aged is the only thing that still holds Carter’s interest. Their scenes, as well a few of the outdoor scenes, are shot in a way that really surprised me. They carry a weariness, almost sadness, a sense of age, and tender weakness, and love. It might sound ridiculous, but I was reminded of Ingmar Bergman’s films. Maybe it was all the snow.

But a movie with “X Files” in the title is not supposed to be an exercise in melancholy. It’s supposed to be a supernatural thriller. Right? But on that front, “I Want to Believe” just doesn’t cut the mustard. The paranormal aspects range from humdrum to the laughably ridiculous. Really, guys, a criminal psychic who knows where the bodies are? IS there an older play in the paranormal thriller playbook? And what he leads them to… well, I shouldn’t really say, I’d be spoiling the movie for you, but let’s just agree that it’s a pretty bizarre and unbelievable medical procedure. It belongs in X-Men, maybe, but not X-Files. The less I say about the plot, the better. At its worst, “I Want to Believe” feels like a made-for-TV movie, an desperate attempt to keep the franchise alive, a placeholder episode while the geniuses who write this stuff think of something better. But the franchise didn’t need a boost – DVD sales of the series are still going strong – and “I Want to Believe” doesn’t add anything to the series’ legacy. If it does anything at all, it makes me want to go see Anderson and/or Duchovny in something else, something not quite so played out.

Recommended

  • for X-Files fans who were always more interested in Mulder and Scully than in anything they investigated

Not Recommended

  • for X-Files fans who were always more interested in the plots and storylines than in who was investigating them.
  • for anyone who’s not an X-Files fan already.
  • for hardcore X-Files fans hoping to see lots of references to their favorite parts of the show.
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  1. I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

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