4.26.2009

Movie Review: The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet
Directed By: Chris Carter
Written By: Frank Spotnitz & Chris Carter
20th Century Fox, 2008
PG-13; 104 minutes
2.5 stars (out of 5)

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I was as big an X-Files fan as any when the drama first began airing on FOX back in the early 1990s. And, oh, I had the biggest crush on David Duchovny.

Okay, so that was my disclaimer. Let's begin by looking at it this way: I Want to Believe is way better than that Fight the Future movie was. In that IWTB at least made sense from start to finish.

Still, the movie left me with that feeling of a class reunion. It was like, Awww, look, they're all grown up now. Duchovny's Fox Mulder and Anderson's Dana Scully are in a steady relationship--well, as steady as can be considering Mulder has become a kind of hermit while Scully works at a Catholic hospital . . . Which reminds me that I had a hermit crab named Mulder, but that's something else again.

So here is how the story plays out: Mulder is underground for fear of prosecution from the FBI for . . . something. Probably had to do with the television show, but I quit watching after about the fifth season because it had ceased to be coherent. And then Duchovny left, so it was like, what was the point? Anyway, the FBI come to Scully--who evidently is not in any trouble of the sort that requires her to hide--asking her to contact Mulder on their behalf because they need his help with something, er, spooky.

Turns out there's a convicted pedophile priest (Connolly) who has psychic visions that may or may not help the FBI locate an abducted agent. The FBI has promised to drop all charges against Mulder if he'll help. He's not interested, but he finally agrees after Scully encourages him to quit being so isolated already.

Well, like any addict, once Mulder's back in, he's in all the way. And Scully quickly begins to regret and resent it. Their relationship begins to crumble.

And here's where I had a small problem: because the movie had only just introduced me to this relationship between Mulder and Scully--that would be the grown-up, living-together relationship--it kind of didn't matter to me that it was now close to being pulled apart. After all, back when I knew them, they weren't "together" in that way anyway. Also, while the tension between Mulder and Scully back on the show used to be HOT, it didn't seem so now. The actors only seemed to be going through the familiar paces, without the investment required to make it all seem real and true. Maybe we were supposed to feel like they were just that comfortable with each other after being together so long, but they didn't even seem to be connecting in any meaningful way on that level.

The story itself, along with a subplot involving a patient of Scully's at the hospital where she works, is only moderately interesting. Connolly, however, does a fine job of commanding the scenes he is in, particularly when playing off Anderson's skeptical Scully. It's weird to think I used to know Connolly only as a comedian, and then as the guy who took over on Head of the Class when Johnny Fever--or Howard Hesseman if you prefer--left. In IWTB, he shows an ability to take on dramatic material.

In the end, the movie didn't show any quality that required a theatrical release; it came across as something that might have made a good episode, or maybe just a special two-hour television event.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I totally agree. I was disappointed in it. I wanted something more, but there are episodes of the show that I remember much more vividly than that film.