Thursday, August 07, 2008

Review - The X Files: I Want to Believe

The X Files: I Want to Believe

Directed by Chris Carter
Written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Mitch Pieggi
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

I was never a huge "X Files" fan. I started watching it well into the show's television run and just never got a foot hold on the deep mythology laid down by Chris Carter (the front runner and creator of the "X Files"). That is not to say that I didn't like the show. With a mix of stand alone episodes (with their own assorted monsters and inhuman acts) and deep rooted mythology episodes (aliens and government conspiracies), the show was popular and very entertaining. Even the first movie, "The X Files: Fight the Future", was a cut above the series - a mix of action, suspense and a continuation of the mythology. Fast forward five years after the finale - Chris Carter makes his directorial debut with the series that made him famous. With such a long lay-off, one would think that there would be plenty of material to mine for a possibly brilliant return to form for the "X Files". That was the assumption I went in with, and I was dead wrong.

Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) are back, sort of. Scully is spending her time at a hospital helping children with diseases. There is a particular child that she focuses most of her attention on, quite possibly reminding her of the child she lost. Mulder, looking like the Unabomber, is still a conspiracy theorist. He cuts stories out of the paper and pins them to the wall, like a conspiracy collage. When the F.B.I. has one of its own kidnapped, they come for help from the dynamic duo. The reason for this - a pedophile priest (Connelly) has psychic visions that cause seizures and blood letting from his eyes. He claims to see the kidnapper and the kidnapped.

Soon Mulder and Scully are deep into the investigation. Mulder takes up his dry humor and is proactive in the hunt for the missing girl. Scully, ever the voice of "reason", doubts the validity of the psychic yet wants to believe in something - if not anything. Another girl goes missing soon after, the priest leads them to a grave of horrors and the story delves into a nightmare that has been at work for decades.

Sounds interesting, right? Nope - not at all. The chemistry between Mulder and Scully is almost non-existent. Maybe taking such a long hiatus is a bad thing. Let alone that the sexual tension between the two is now a distant memory (they live together now) but the two former agents share a surprisingly large amount of screen time apart. Scully is preparing for a series of highly experimental procedures on the little boy while Mulder would rather stick it through and see the investigation to the end. This may have worked during the series, when some episodes they would only speak to each other on the phone. But in a big screen venture, the two need to spend a considerable amount of time together to make it work.

The supporting actors are either completely horrible or wasted all together. Amanda Peet falls into the latter category. Peet has always been an average actress - some parts good, some parts bad. Here she just is another face in the ever revolving agent carousel. It seems that she is filling the Mulder quotient - the believer of the bunch who easily buys into conspiracies or the "paranormal". Unfortunately, there is no new ground broken with her character. Peet seems to just be going through the motions. If that is on purpose or not, I'm not sure. Either way, it doesn't work. Xzibit plays the Scully character - skeptical and tries to stay grounded in reality. Honestly, I have no idea why he was chosen to be in a film like this. His acting is sub-par and lends absolutely no credibility to the role. Maybe Chris Carter should have cast someone who's name doesn't consist of just one word. Mitch Pileggi's character, Skinner, isn't even in the film until the last twenty or so minutes. Treated like an afterthought, Skinner is basically brought in as back up to Scully - absolutely a waste of time and talent.

The story itself would be a stand-alone episode. A modern day Dr. Frankenstein with certain historical ties. The only thing paranormal is the psychic priest. No monsters. No aliens. No conspiracy. If this was an episode in the series, it would be considered sub-par - maybe even one of the worst episodes. The only excitement comes near the end in which Mulder is in grave danger and Scully is racing against time to try and save him. Other than that, there is long scenes of Scully obsessing over helping the child and Mulder believing in the priest - even when no one else will. When you think about it, you would hope that after such a long lay off from the series and a ten year gap between films, there would be something more. But Chris Carter lays an egg and the result is a half baked idea that spells disaster for potential box office returns.

With such a dense mythology and a wealth of potential stand alone ideas, "The X Files: I Want to Believe" is a colossal waste of time and talent. In my opinion, the only one who comes out looking a little better than the others is Duchovny. His dry sense of humor and charisma have always shone through - whether it be on "The X Files" or any other show. Hopefully, if they do decide to make another "X Files" movies, they get input from everybody. Let's try to satisfy everybody, just not hard core fans. Given the relatively low budget of the film, this may be a possible scenario. But in the wake of this disappointment, I just hope and pray they realize the mistake they made. I wanted to believe that this would be a return to glory for a dormant series. I wanted to believe that the magic, that was once there, would return. I wanted to believe that this would be one of the better films of the summer. Unfortunately, reality set in after seeing the film. All I can believe in now is that Chris Carter needs to make up for this mishap.


Post a Comment

<< Home