Tying in with the home video release of The X-Files – I Want to Believe and coinciding with its tenth anniversary, 20th Century Fox has given the first X-Files feature film, subtitled Fight the Future, the Blu-ray treatment.
While the story involves The X-Files’ myth-arc about extraterrestrials and the shadow government known as the Syndicate, series creator Chris Carter, who co-produced and wrote the screenplay, does a good job walking a fine line of furthering the series story along while providing enough information to not completely lose those new to The X-Files. Unfortunately, his heavy hand is felt forcing the plot along, greatly diminishing the logic and suspense.
The film opens in North Texas, 35,000 B.C. as two Neanderthals track a creature to a cave, which turns out to be an alien. When they kill the alien, what appears to be blood at first is actually an extraterrestrial parasite that X-philes will know as “black oil,” which it resembles in appearance as was foreshadowed during the opening credits. Cut to present day, and a young boy discovers the same cavern and is infected with the black oil along with some firemen who attempted to rescue him. They are all whisked away under secrecy.
Fight the Future takes place in the series chronology between the fifth and sixth seasons. At the end of Season Five, the X-Files were shut down by the agency, which is why we find agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) assigned to a bomb threat in Dallas under Special Agent in Charge Darius Michaud (Terry O'Quinn). For reasons not clear except to the writers, Mulder on a hunch decides to search another building where he finds a bomb. Michaud says he will handle the bomb and orders everyone to leave. However, the audience sees that Michaud allows the explosion to happen.
Back in Washington D.C., Mulder and Scully come under review because there were bodies in the building, which it turns out were the people infected by black oil. Scully decides if given a transfer she will quit the Bureau and go back into medicine. Mulder is frustrated and gets drunk at a bar where he meets Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), who provides clues to some of what was happening in Dallas.
Mulder and Scully begin their investigation while the audience stays one step ahead through revelations of the Syndicate’s plan, which is awfully bizarre. They are in cahoots with the aliens who are going to use the black oil to turn humans into hosts as an alien gestates inside. However, the Syndicate is working on an antidote, but it’s not clear what good it would do to be the only humans on the planet if it’s overrun with aliens. Some dangerous predicaments take place, but since Season Six was already planned, and aired back in the fall of 1998, the viewer knows the events will wrap up nice and neat.
It was good to see a giant-size version of The X-Files attempted but the story’s fun and intriguing moments are countered by nonsensical ones, resulting in the film being a bit of a disappointment overall. Too often, Mulder is unfortunately pointed in the right direction by deus ex machina. How Kurtzweil knows what he knows is unexplained, and it’s terribly convenient for someone in the Syndicate to have a change of heart and help Mulder. The big escape during the ending was a little ridiculous, especially with Scully conveniently being too weak to turn her head and see what Mulder does.
The video is given a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer and is presented in 2.35:1. Like the TV series, the cinematography makes good use of darkness, shadows, and diffusion in the atmosphere, which can affect the clarity of images, but works within the context of the film. Still some scenes deliver very fine detail, such as the texture of Mulder’s shirt. There were slight changes in skin tones. The scenes shot during the third act to simulate Antarctica don’t hold up well in high definition as the actors are clearly in a green screen.
The audio DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is put to good use with the action. The helicopters sweep through the system and the explosions are powerful. The levels are mixed well because when the scenes only contain dialogue there’s no need to adjust the volume. Mark Snow’s dramatic score stands out as an integral part of the storytelling by conveying the mood well.
The Blu-ray is packed with Special Features. There are two commentary tracks: the original commentary with Carter and director Rob Bowman from the previous DVD release and a BonusView picture-in-picture commentary with Carter, Bowman, co-author Frank Spotnitz, and co-producer Daniel Sackheim, which is also available as an audio track. There are two making-of features: “The Making Of The X-Files Movie” hosted by Mitch Pileggi from the previous release and “Blackwood: The Making of The X-Files: Fight the Future” in HD, which claims to be new but the interviews are all from back when the movie was made. The “In-Movie Features” offers BonusView Commentary, Behind-The-Camera material, and Storyboards and Concept Art relevant to the current scene. Other High Definition Special Features cover Visual Effects, Scoring, Gag Reel, Alternate Bee Sting Scene, Theatrical Trailers, and Still Galleries.
X-Files – Fight the Future is for people who enjoy science-fiction conspiracy tales as long as little attention is paid to the plot. However, I would recommend embracing the past and renting the early seasons of the series.