Published on July 28th, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The X Files: I Want to Believe
At the beginning of summer if someone were to ask me what would be the most disappointing film of the summer (thus far) I could have pretty much guaranteed the world “Man” or “Hulk” would have been in my answer, but not the single letter “X”, yet here we are, nearly done with the summer movie season and the shining example of too little, too late is a movie I wanted to believe in so much.
The X Files: I Want to Believe seeks to do two things, introduce new viewers to The X Files, which ran on FOX from 1993-2002, and to bring back viewers who have been without their Mulder/Scully fix for the better part of the new millennium. What Chris Carter has done with the secret script he guarded for years barely measures up to one of the show’s mediocre episodes which thankfully lasted only 42 minutes, here we have nearly two hours to endure.
The abandoning of the mythology story arc, seemingly resolved at the end of the series, really hinders what makes The X Files special. Even the first film, which fit into the time line of the show, broadened the show’s appeal with bigger set pieces, bigger action, but kept the series trademark conspiracy, mythology, and characters in check. Fight the Future was a superior example of how to transition a TV show to the silver screen with style, while preserving what made it special in the beginning. I Want to Believe is a devolution back to the monster-of-the-week story lines present throughout the show’s book-ending first and ninth seasons, no mention of aliens, black oil, cigarette smoking men, nothing. Replace the two main characters with anyone else, or chimpanzees and you’d have the same film.
The biggest problem is how fleeting the final, and highly rated, episode of the series is thrown away, it’s a single line of dialog and Mulder is no longer a wanted man, in-fact, all it takes is one psycho psychic (who also happens to like little boys) and the FBI is scraping at the door to get Mulder back into the fold. Aren’t these the same people that wanted him dead? The same people that created trumped up charges so see him live in agony for the rest of his life and discredit his work?
Aside from a minor appearance by Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), who is apparently still working for the FBI even after the series finale, we get nothing else to even remotely identify this as an extension of The X Files series. No Lone Gunman (even though they are dead), no Doggett, no William (aside from a mention of Scully’s who-knows-where child), but we do get the famous poster and a few Samantha references.
Maybe Carter wrapped everything up too tightly at the end of the TV run to really make a follow up movie or create a franchise beyond a nine year run on the small screen. Without the mythology, there is no X Files, all you have left is creepy Russian headhunters who like to transplant heads to different bodies.
As the credits roll after the most needless ocean scenery ever the light come up and you stare blankly at the screen, wanting to believe that there’s more, that a UFO will come crashing through the production logo and set up a sequel covered in black oil. You want to believe that The X Files isn’t truly over, but after such a mess of a film, you now want to believe they’ll leave this treasured franchise alone to run in syndication and in the minds of its fans.