July 24, 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Can you pimp my career?

Grade: D
Director: Chris Carter
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connelly, and Xzibit
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Falling on the buzz-o-meter somewhere below the New Kids on the Block reunion and above the latest McRib sandwich revival, X-Files: I Want to Believe (hereafter X-Files 2) is a sequel of sorts – releasing ten years after the first feature film adaptation of the popular serial drama – that has apparently gathered dust and grown mold inside creator Chris Carter’s desk ever since the television series was put out of its misery in 2002. My best guess is that X-Files 2 is nothing more than the languid plot to a latter-day episode that Carter, pulling double-duty here as writer-director, never got to film before they pulled the plug to the TV show. I want to believe there will never be another X-Files movie, but how else would Carter stay busy otherwise?

Missing are aliens, UFOs, and other mysterious paranormal phenomenon, unless you count the psychic visions of the location of a missing FBI agent channeled by Father Joe (Billy Connelly), a defrocked Catholic priest-cum-convicted pedophile. For vague reasons, the Bureau enlists the aid of ex-agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to coax disgraced ex-agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) out of self-imposed exile to spearhead the search effort in the middle of snow-covered West Virginia.

A trail of frozen, dismembered limbs and Father Joe’s ramblings ultimately lead to the doorstep of a gay Russian trying to transplant the head of his dying lover onto the body of a kidnapped woman (you know, that old yarn). Disregard for a moment the question of why a gay man would fuse his mate’s head onto a female body. More disquieting, and indefensible, is the rank gay-dread the film both feeds off and fuels.

Meanwhile, familiar archetypes emerge. Cockeyed Mulder wonders whether a higher power, perhaps God, is using Father Joe as an oracle. Whiney skeptic Scully is a physician who consults Google for guidance before administering radical stem cell therapy into the brain of a terminally ill boy. They and the rest of the cast are held hostage by Carter’s lazy script. After spending the entire film being led around by Father Joe’s fever daydreams, Mulder’s lone bit of sleuthing results in him stumbling across the main baddie when they visit a rural feed-and-seed at the same time. Later, the chief agent (Xzibit…really) assigned to the case tells Scully that Mulder’s subsequent disappearance is not the FBI’s concern (uh, isn’t that what the case itself is about…a missing FBI agent?). It turns out that particular hogwash is nothing more than a cheap excuse for Mitch Pileggi’s FBI heavy Walter Skinner to make a glorified cameo.

Most of the dialogue, particularly Mulder and Scully’s droning gobbledygook, comprises incessant non sequiturs one should refrain from even trying to decipher. Doing so will leave you hurdling headlong toward either the edge of insanity or the theater’s exit. Some viewers may “want to believe”; most will just want to leave.

Neil Morris


Anonymous said...

Glad to see we are in agreeance on this one Neil! I was really disappointed that Carter didn't come up with something better.

Anonymous said...

How about a more sobering thought. You write "there will never be another X-Files" half jokingly / gleefully. I write it seriously. They've had two chances to translate a phenomenal television series into a phenomenal big screen projecct, and they faltered twice. Carter just does not translate his and the series' genius from the television to the cinema. And that is a tragedy, because the ideas and the themes and the plots in the X-Files as it manifested in television over a decade could go toe to toe with the BEST that Hollywood has to offer. If only they could have found someone who knew how to helm such a project.

As it is, we get a typical Hwood pattern: use it, abuse it, and discard it forever. I doubt we'll see another attempt to revive the franchise, and that's a shame.