Written by El Puerquito Magnifico
I’ve only watched The X-Files television series twice. The first time was an episode featuring a crazy inbred family who killed their neighbors. The episode scared the pants off of me and I loved it, but for some reason I never fully immersed myself in the series. The second time I tuned it, it was just a repeat of that same episode. It scared me almost as much the second time around.
But I still never got into The X-Files. I didn’t have anything against it, but by the time I got interested enough to actually want to watch it, it had already been on the air for a few years and the whole mythology just seemed too complicated and convoluted to bother with. I was too busy reading complicated and convoluted comic book plotlines at the time anyway; I couldn’t be bothered with a television series.
Fast forward to 2008, and I’m reviewing the second big-screen version of the popular series, X-Files: I Want to Believe. Now, you might think that my almost complete lack of knowledge regarding the series or the characters would be a detriment to my review, and maybe you’re right. I prefer to think that it makes me the perfect choice to review this film. I’m not biased in any way. I don’t come in with any preconceived notions of what the film, the characters, or the story should be. I’m a blank slate, a veritable tabula rasa when it comes to all things X-Filey.
Luckily for me, this movie was made to stand on its own. No Smoking Men, alien sister abductions, or sexual tension here; just a standalone murder-mystery. Unluckily for me, it wasn’t altogether that great of a movie.
The story picks up six years after the events of the series finale. Dana Scully is a staff physician at Our Lady of Sorrows, a Catholic hospital, where she is treating a young boy with a terminal brain condition. Despite the protests of the clergy, she wishes to go forward with some radical new forms of therapy. The priests and nuns at the hospital would rather leave the matter in God’s hands. An FBI agent asks Scully to help find fugitive agent Fox Mulder and promise to call off their manhunt if Mulder will help them solve a case concerning several missing women. Mulder agrees and the band is back together, in a manner of speaking.
The reason for Mulder’s involvement is Joseph Fitzgerald Crissman, a former priest who had been convicted of pedophilia. It seems that Father Joe has been receiving visions that give him clues to the whereabouts of both the victims and the perpetrators of the recent crimes. Scully is disgusted at the prospect of working with a child molester while Mulder, as usual, is intrigued by the supernatural aspects of the case. These two viewpoints are shared by the rest of the investigative team: half of them think Father Joe is a fraud who is possibly involved with the crimes and is trying to use “the Word of God” as a way to find forgiveness from the Vatican. The other half wonders if maybe there’s something more to his visions.
I won’t go into the rest of the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away for those who might be interested. I will simply say that the rest of the film deals with faith, belief, and choices: Mulder’s belief that Father Joe isn’t lying and is having a legitimate psychic vision; Scully’s faith that what she’s doing to help her patient is right; and Father Joe’s belief that God is sending him messages and will forgive him for his transgressions. It’s actually a pretty good story and perhaps would’ve made a better movie if someone else had been at the helm. No offense to Chris Carter, obviously he’s the guy most X-Files fans would want behind the camera, but the film lacks any emotion whatsoever. There’s no tension, no suspense, and really no excitement to be had.
I don’t want to sound like I’m giving this film a totally bad review though. Like I said, it’s got a very interesting story and the fact that it isn’t simply “black and white” or “good vs. evil” is something I really appreciated. It’s definitely more intelligent than a lot of science fiction that’s out there, so it’s at least got that much going for it. And I have to imagine that long-time X-Files fans will enjoy seeing their old favorites back together. Heck, I even got a kick out of it and I’ve only seen one episode of the series! And maybe I’m totally missing the boat on this one? Maybe the TV show was just as dull as this movie and it’s totally par for the course? It might be a home run for all I know.
At any rate, if you’re a fan of the series and you were wondering if this movie is worth your time, I’d guess that it probably is. If you’ve never watched The X-Files and you’re wondering if you could just jump into this movie and have any idea what’s going on, I’m going to say yes, but you might not want to bother. It’s worth a rental, but I’m sure there’s something better out there that you could be watching.
The three-disc set includes both the theatrical and the extended cut of the movie, a digital copy of the film, as well as the usual assortment of extras. There’s a gag reel, deleted scenes and a ton of interviews with the cast and crew about all the stuff you’d expect: doing another movie after so long, the lengths they went to keep it all under wraps, what it was like to work together again, and so on and so forth. There’s also a music video by Xzibit, who stars in the film as an FBI agent. If you like The X-Files and you plan on picking up the movie, you might as well buy the three-disc set.