I am an X-Phile, or at least I was. I diligently watched what I consider to be the best TV drama of the 1990s, and even read paperback novels and comic books based on the characters. When the show ran off the rails after cast changes and an increasingly tangled storyline, I still stuck with it, but after it went off the air (in 2002, I see from IMDB–I would have thought it ended three or four years before that) I haven’t given it much thought at all. I don’t own any of the DVDs, and the tangled mythology involving black oil aliens and the cigarette-smoking man have long been buried under the asphalt of my memory.
Therefore, I suppose it could be said that an alternate title for this film could have been The X-Files: I Wanted to Like This Movie. Series creator Chris Carter directed, and the two stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have returned. But, and I probably sensed this would be true, the film is kind of disposable, containing nothing that couldn’t have been explored in a two-part episode of the show. There’s nothing larger-than-life about it that merits the big screen.
The title of the film refers both to the ominipresent UFO poster that Duchovny’s Fox Mulder keeps on his wall, and his overall philosophy about the unexplained. As the film starts, he is in hiding, ostracized by the FBI. Scully, his one-time partner and now his–I’m not sure, their relationship is never fully explained, though they are seen snuggling in bed at one point–has also left the FBI and is a physician working at a Catholic hospital. They are asked to assist on a case by an FBI agent played by Amanda Peet, who is looking for a missing agent. She needs Mulder for his insight, as the FBI has been assisted by a pedophile priest (Billy Connolly) who has had visions about the case.
Mulder and Scully, of course, end up reluctantly involved, perhaps much like the actors themselves (but who knows, maybe they were grateful for the work). We get a lot of the main theme from the series–Scully’s skepticism, balanced against her Christian faith, versus Mulder’s belief in the paranormal.
The film is kind of blah until the last half hour, when the plot reveals medical experiments out of a 1950′s horror film, but it never quite fully engaged this viewer. There’s no vividly etched villain, nor is there the omnipresent menace of the mythology episodes.
I can’t imagine that this would appeal in the slightest to anyone who has never seen an X-Files episode. I’ve seen them all, and I was a little confused. It’s curious as to why a show that has been off the air for six years would get a second film opening on a plum weekend in July, but it is what it is. They got this die-hard to go, but there can’t be enough of people like me to make it worthwhile, I would think.