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“The X-Files: I Want To Believe”

by Bob Garver

            The best part about “The X-Files: I Want To Believe” is when it ends.  I mean this in two senses.  The first is that there is a surprisingly impressive credit sequence with fast-moving shots of beautiful landscapes.  Seriously, it looks amazing.  The rest of the movie should have looked like this.  The second reason is that the film is incredibly dull and it’s a relief that it is finally over. 

The film is based on a popular FOX television series that ran in the 90s.  There was also an earlier “X-Files” movie released in 1998 during the height of the show’s popularity.  The franchise concerns a pair of paranormal investigators working for the FBI.  Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is open-minded about the supernatural, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) has confidence in more logical explanations. 

Many critics list Mulder and Scully among TV’s all-time greatest odd couples.   This may be true, the series must have lasted nine seasons for a reason.  But ten years later, Duchovny and Anderson bring very little chemistry to their roles.  They have either lost the magic or they never had it. 

Unofficially, Mulder and Scully have been brought back together to bleed a few last dollars from a tired franchise.  Officially, they have been brought back to investigate the disappearance of a young FBI agent.  The paranormal twist is that a disgraced former priest (Billy Connelly) claims to be having psychic visions of the crime.  Mulder and Scully are brought in to see if and how there is any validity to these claims. 

Father Joe has all the characteristics of a wise old man who is dismissed as crazy but turns out to be right.  He has thick glasses, long hair, a European accent (Scottish instead of the usual British or German), and loves to watch television.  The question soon turns from “Is he right?” to “How does he know these things?”  He might have first-hand knowledge of the crime, but there might be something more interesting going on. 

We never find out if there is something more interesting going on.  The rest of the case is based on straightforward detective work.  The motive for the kidnappings turns out to be appropriately sick and twisted, although not supernatural.  There is no reason why Mulder should be snooping around without enlisting the help of anyone at the FBI.  Then again, no one at the FBI is much help in this movie. 

The movie needs more characters than Mulder, Scully, and Father Joe.  Enter the FBI agents played by Amanda Peet and Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner.  Neither serves a purpose other than to fill space.  Peet is wooden and has an exchange with Connelly so bad it is likely to join scenes from the “Wicker Man” remake on Youtube as an example of laughably poor acting.  Joiner doesn’t exactly do anything wrong, but his character is boring and unmemorable, just like the rest of the movie. 

The film is directed by series creator Chris Carter.  He runs out of ideas quickly.  For example, there are a number of scenes where characters from the show make their first appearances in years.  More than once, the camera shows the back of their heads, and then they turn around.  It’s a distracting repetition.  The action sequences are flat-out unconvincing (the bad guys have a snowplow, and somehow that gives them a huge advantage).  And he overestimates how interested we are in listening to the characters discuss things like faith and medicine when time is running out for the victims and Father Joe is bleeding from his eyes. 

Is there a place for an “X-Files” movie in 2008?  I actually did see a few T-shirts with the show’s logo at the screening I attended, so a bit of the audience is still intact.  But “I Want To Believe” isn’t likely to bring in any new fans, and it might annoy those loyal to the series.  “I Want To Believe” that it will soon be out of theaters.  

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