A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

July 12, 2011

X-Files: I Want to Believe

I mentioned in the review for yesterday’s movie that I felt like the movie was a lengthy episode of the TV series. That’s actually far more true of this movie. This film is all about catching up with Mulder and Scully to see what’s been up since the end of the show and enjoy one last X-Files adventure with them. Here comes the awkward confession though – I didn’t really watch the X-Files after the last movie. I watched some episodes as a casual fan up through about season five but not much after that. As a result I wasn’t really sure how much in this movie was moving the characters past what they were in the show and how much was just a continuation of themes from the later seasons.

So what have the two of them been up to since the show ended? Well Dana has retired from the FBI at last to follow her career as a doctor, and Fox has been growing a shaggy beard. What’s interesting is that the event that brings the two of them reluctantly out of retirement is not some kind of epic world changing conspiracy, it’s a little tale of abductions, strange medical procedures and psychic powers. Very much like any stand-alone episode of the show this isn’t about the over-arching plot – it’s just about these characters and the slightly supernatural world they inhabit.

An FBI agent has been abducted and the team hunting for her has for some reason turned to a scraggly haired ex priest who is plagued by visions that pertain to the case. See if you can follow this now: the agent in charge of the search for the missing girl wants to believe the visions of the priest, but isn’t completely sold. She decides, therefore, to seek out that famous investigator of the paranormal Fox Mulder. Fox has been living in hiding though because of something having to do with being discredited (I think) and hunted by the FBI. They want to offer him amnesty so they can pick his brain and get the movie going, but they have to find him first. Naturally, therefore, they seek out his old partner Dana Scully because they know she’ll know where to find him. He agrees to go check out this psychic priest but only if Dana agrees to come along to keep him grounded.

I see all kinds of hints of character traits that were played up extensively in the show here. Particularly Scully’s whole clash between her scientific scepticism and her Catholic faith. She’s working now for a hospital that is run by a gaunt priest. She is desperate to save the life of her (apparently) only patient, who is a boy with some degenerative brain disease and is willing to use controversial experimental therapies to do so. Then it turns out that Father Joe is not just a psychic ex-priest, he’s a convicted pedophile. It’s all tied together. The whole thrust of the episode movie is that people don’t know if they can trust this fundamentally flawed man. Either his visions are a genuine psychic phenomenon and a way for Father Joe to redeem himself somewhat or he’s a loathsome shyster trying to scam the FBI. Naturally Fox wants to believe him and Dana despises him from the moment she discovers his past.

Gillian Anderson has the most to work with here. Scully spends the entire movie being conflicted, which means she has a whole lot of scenes of soul searching – perhaps too many. I know that Amanda’s biggest problem with the movie is that Dana is not really part of the main plot, that her whole thing with the dying boy in the hospital has almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It’s most confusing when you come to the fan service scenes. We get to see Dana and Fox in bed together acting like an old married couple (even though they never refer to each other using their first names.) Then Scully agonises because she doesn’t like the whole dark world of the FBI and she just wants to live her life without all that.

Meanwhile David Duchovny has a lot less to work with. Fox starts out as a recluse living in the woods with his beard and his newspaper clippings, and the movie is just him turning back into the character he was in the show. He re-discovers his passion for paranormal investigation, which is fun to watch and all, but it doesn’t really give him anything new to do.

I actually had more fun with this movie than I did with yesterday’s. It’s not really trying to be more than a fun episode of the show, and I enjoyed being brought back to those strange and creepy shows that made me enjoy the X-Files back in the late nineties. It reminded me what it was about the show that worked, and it proves that even when the ongoing unresolved sexual tension of the show is finally out of the way these characters are still fun to watch. Maybe it could do with a little less angst and a little more supernatural horror, but it works well enough for me and it left me wanting more.

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July 12, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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