Fight The Future - The X Files Movie
Fight The Future - The X Files Movie

The Reviews
Paranormal Relationships | John Hartl

Can 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?
The 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.
A 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.
A 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.
On 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.
Skeptical 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 other.
It's 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"?
Still, the movie runs into real trouble only when it tries to become a showcase for explosions, car chases, an Antarctic expedition and imitation-Alien special effects.
The 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.

THE REVIEWS
You Can't Handle the Truth! | Ted Fry

To 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.
A 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.
Fans 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.
After 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.
Along 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.
The 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 out there.



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