As an X-Phile who sat through every single episode of the The X-Files [yup, all nine seasons and the first movie], I have to say that it was disheartening to see a mere eighteen people in the theater for the first matinee of The X-Files: I Want To Believe. What was even more disheartening was watching the film unfold to pretty much stony silence from the assembled [I’d hardly call it a crowd].
You don’t need to have watched the television program to understand what’s going on in I Want to Believe, but it certainly helps when it comes to some of the inside jokes and character moments. Even a non-X-Phile can follow the plot – which revolves around a specific urban legend – and the relationship between former FBI agents Fox Mulder [David Duchovny] and Dr. Dana Scully [Gillian Anderson] is apparent even to the uninitiated [though some of their exchanges might not have the same impact for those new to the X-Files experience].
Duchovny and Anderson slip back into their roles so well, it’s like they’ve always been there and there are pleasantly surprising performances from newcomers to the X-Files, Xzibit [as a sceptical FBI Agent who seems like a Skinner-in-training, but without the people skills] and Billy Connolly as a psychic pedophile ex-priest. Amanda Peet, as Agent-in-Charge Dakota Whitney, is merely adequate. Callum Keith Rennie, as the primary villain, brings a suitable menace to his performance.
Unfortunately, the plot is pretty average – to the point where the B-plot [Scully’s efforts to save the life of a boy with a deadly brain disease] is actually more involving. On the plus side, series creator Chris Carter – who co-wrote the script with Frank Spotnitz – does a good job of creating the murky, atmospheric feel that made the series unique to the proceedings. That compensates for many of the film’s flaws.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe is an adequate way to kill a couple of hours, but it’s not likely to spawn the kind of fervent glee that the best episodes of the series generated. I fear this will be the last new X-Files adventure/investigation. Pity… [Please note, stay through the credits and you’ll see a glimpse of Mulder and Scully that is particularly memorable for Scully fans – two words: black bikini.]
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Final Grade: C+