Back in the nineties I was just about as big a fan of the X-Files as you were likely to find. Which is why I was as excited as anybody when I heard there was going to be a new X-Files movie last summer.
However, as the reviews about the movie started to roll in, so did the dread. There was also the matter of drumming up any interest among my friends to go see the damn thing.
You see, there have always been two mythologies about the X-Files which made it such a great TV series. One was the whole government conspiratorial Roswell, UFO, New World Order sort of thing, which back in the pre-millenennial nineties had reached something like a fever pitch. The other great sub-plot, meanwhile, was the that whole sizzling understory involving the romantic and sexual tension between two of the geekiest, most un-sexy characters you could find anywhere in agents Mulder and Scully.
So here's the thing.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe works very well as a stand-alone paranormal thriller. The problem here is that they blew it as far as drawing in the fan base goes. I mean, honestly what were they thinking?
The mythology about everything from Roswell to Area 51 that drew in fans like me back in the nineties is pretty much completely dropped here. There's no Cigarette Smoking Man, no Lone Gunmen, and no nefarious government conspiracy to be found anywhere here. And excuse me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't that the whole point of the X-Files in the first place?
In that respect, this movie is like Star Trek without the phasers or the warp drives. What is left is a fairly compelling paranormal thriller about disappearing FBI agents and a pedophile Catholic priest with an apparent psychic connection to the crimes. Which I guess is all fine and dandy, except that it's not exactly anything that would make the Art Bell (or excuse me, I guess it's George Norry these days) show.
Ah yes, but there is that whole "other" X-Files mythology — the Mulder and Scully thing (I even named two of my cats after them).
This movie acknowledges that in one short exchange where Scully reveals to Mulder "why I fell in love with you," and Mulder replies that "is why we can't be together." There is also a funny nod to current politics where the agents see pictures of George W. Bush and J. Edgar Hoover on the wall and roll their eyes appropriately.
As the movie ends, there are also hints that the two might run off together to get away from all of this — well, you know, whatever it is.
For me, as an X-Files fan, that's just not enough — even though there's a bit of a payoff when Walter Skinner shows up at the end.
Bad reviews notwithstanding, this is a decent movie. It's just not a good X-Files movie. What I'm hoping is, much like the way they muffed it on the first Star Trek film, they get it right on the next try.