The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
I always enjoyed watching The X-Files and was bitterly disappointed by the way the series ended. It was abrupt, lacklustre and inconclusive. So naturally I was interested when I heard that the franchise was to be resurrected for another cinematic outing in 2008. I, like so many fans, was curious to see how the characters would be developed and whether if any of the more famous story lines would be developed for this second cinematic outing. The fact that series creator, Chris carter, was to direct the film increased my expectations. However, the film that was finally released (at the height of the summer, amid so much competition) was quite different from what the public were expecting.
Former FBI spooks Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are reinstated to investigate the mysterious abduction of a young female agent. They are assisted by a psychic ex-priest who has been defrocked over child molestation (Billy Connolly). As the agents struggle to unravel the secrets of Father Joseph's visions they also have to confront some personal demons of their own. Whilst unravelling a plot involving bizarre experimentation, Mulder and Scully struggle with their relationship and a sceptical pair of FBI colleagues. There are no conspiracies, shoot outs, alien activity, CGI, or major explosions. The film is curiously low key in both its plot and production.
Unlike the first feature film, the plot does not focus on the series' established "mythos" and instead works as a standalone story, similar to many of the "monster of the week" episodes that were frequently seen in the TV series. This has been done in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, but ultimately works against the film. It all seems a little too understated and un X-Files-ish. The only above average aspect of the movie is Billy Connolly's performance. But one good performance is not enough to sustain this sort of movie. Also, the major selling point of the original series was the unrequited relationship between the leads. This film ruins this mystique by finally settling the storyline. Mulder and Scully together as an item simply does not work.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe has a strong degree of moralising and religious debate, which is far from subtle. Connolly's character raises several ethical issues, but the script seems ill equipped to explore them to any satisfaction. All things considered, this really is a bit of a misfire. It does seem strange that a major studio such as Fox would bring a franchise out of retirement simply for such a basic film. I'm sure writer and director Carter was attempting to go back to basics and not be artistically fenced in by previous material. Unfortunately, I think he took too many steps back on this one and we are left with a film that is content to be no more in-depth than an average TV episode.