Relationships | John Hartl
Scully and Mulder maintain their deadpan chemistry in the multiplexes?
Will their investigations of the paranormal pass the big-screen credibility
test? Can a spooky television show that runs less than an hour be expanded
to two hours-plus without inducing unwanted giggles?
X-Files, the new movie version of the five-year-old series, answers
all of these questions with a qualified yes. It's not exactly a breakthrough,
but whether you're a fan of the show or you've never heard of it, it's
solid, summery popcorn entertainment.
whistled version of the series' theme music introduces the opening scene,
which takes place in icebound Northern Texas in 35,000 B.C. Soon we're
underground, inside an ice cave. Or could it be a space ship? Something
dreadful happens, then the film skips a few thousand decades and the
same dreadful thing happens again in the present.
lethal plague appears to have been awakened, and FBI special agents
Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) run straight into
it while investigating the bombing of a Dallas office building. A widely
discredited doomsday writer (Martin Landau) tells them what to look
for, they find it, and they're on their way to uncovering an apocalyptic
international plot. There's a strong odor of recycling about the movie,
but then that's been true of the series for a while. It must be tough
to maintain the freshness of that first season, especially when you're
dealing with extraterrestrials, conspiracy theories and shape-shifters
on a weekly basis. Chicken Little demonstrated how many times you can
claim the sky is falling.
television, "The X-Files" was fun at first because it took an ironic
approach to this lunatic-fringe material. That's true to some extent
of the movie, which was written by Chris Carter, the series' creator,
and directed by Rob Bowman, who has helmed 25 episodes of the show.
They've made the movie accessible to people who don't watch the series
- and a hard-to-resist invitation to find out what happens next by tuning
in when it returns this fall.
Scully and susceptible Mulder are good company, whether their act is
played out on a big or a small screen. Their repartee is swift and sharp,
they're willing to examine both sides of an argument, and Duchovny and
Anderson always make it clear that these people genuinely like each
too bad that the movie teases us with the potential of a romantic relationship
between Scully and Mulder, then drops it with a shameless contrivance
(it's as phony as the phone call that interrupts Paul Rudd and Jennifer
Aniston's make-out session in The Object of My Affection). And does
anyone really want to hear Mulder confess to Scully, "You've made me
a whole person"?
the movie runs into real trouble only when it tries to become a showcase
for explosions, car chases, an Antarctic expedition and imitation-Alien
X-Files is really about Mulder's determination to investigate those
events that can't be "programmed, categorized or easily referenced,"
Scully's ability to make him question his theories, and the relationship
between them. Anything beyond that isn't gravy. It's just in the way.
Can't Handle the Truth! | Ted Fry
coin a phrase that FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) uses
several times in The X-Files, this pumped-up version of the popular
TV drama cannot be "programmed, categorized, or easily referenced."
Mulder is speaking about various conspiracies that have given "The X-Files"
its raison d'Ítre, and which find comfortable homes in the bigger, flashier,
and mostly better big-screen extension. But he could just as well be
referring to the phenomenon that caused a low-key production from an
upstart network to grow into a global pop culture franchise that has
now spawned a $70 million movie.
key element in marketing The X-Files has been the refrain that you can
enjoy the movie without knowing anything about the TV show. The question
is, would anybody who doesn't know anything about the TV show care about
the movie? But then, even those who profess never to watch "The X-Files"
probably have enough recognition to be tantalized by lethal "black oil,"
swarms of bees genetically engineered to spread an alien virus, or a
global conspiracy structured to help an ancient race of extra-terrestrials
colonize Earth. Then there's David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson - photogenic
stars who ooze professional tension and enough sex appeal to keep the
world wondering if they're ever going to kiss.
or not, it's a good bet that people are going to expect too much from
The X-Files. What we have here is an above average, stand-alone, two-part
episode that vaguely ties in with last season's cliffhanger ending,
and leaves plenty of questions about what's in store for viewers next
fall. For all the talk of truths being revealed and plot lines tied
up, there are precious few answers in store for X-philes, and enough
non-answers to leave non-viewers furiously scratching their heads.
a terrific setup that begins in the arctic wasteland of north Texas,
circa 35,000 B.C., we take up with Mulder and his partner Dana Scully
(Anderson) on an anti-terrorism detail in present-day Dallas. Unable
to prevent an Oklahoma City-like bombing (one of several set-pieces
spectacularly staged by director Rob Bowman), the duo find themselves
sucked into a potential cover-up that involves the above-mentioned black
oil/bee/alien plot points. Typically, Mulder does most of the sucking,
with a skeptical Scully along only because her career is on the line.
the way, familiar characters pop up - the Lone Gunmen, Cancer Man, Well-Manicured
Man - as well as some interesting new ones. The most engaging of these
is Martin Landau as a would-be crackpot who feeds Mulder information
in a series of dark alleys. Landau has ambiguous ties to "The Syndicate,"
a super-secret group that's simultaneously in cahoots with the aliens,
and scheming against them. Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Conrad Strughold,
the Syndicate's good/evil leader, who ends the movie with an omen for
the TV season ahead. Describing Mulder's attitude after being foiled
again from bringing Truth to the world, Strughold says, "He's determined
now. Reinvested." A frustrated Mulder puts it even better when he rhetorically
asks Scully, "How many times have we been here before, right back at
the beginning?" The answer, of course, is once a week, at least.
X-Files looks great, and is fleshed out with loads of cool visual and
narrative details: lone figures framed against the backdrop of a vast
desert, ice floe, or maze-like corn field; a rat scampering through
a scene right on cue; underground structures made by man, nature, or
something else. No slouches in the acting department to begin with,
Duchovny and Anderson get the chance to shine in several scenes that
give a little more depth to their characters. But in the end, there's
just not a whole lot that can be done in the area of tying up loose
ends or affecting dramatic closure. Everybody has a job to go back to.
Whatever the Truth may be for "X-Files" fans, it's still tantalizingly