The X-Files: I Want To Believe – the review

I will hold my hands up here and admit that I was wrong about some of the points I raised in my previous blog on this subject.

1. I could get past the fact that it was Billy Connolly playing the disgraced paedophile priest.

2. The dodgy bit in the original trailer didn’t make it into the film. However, relieving as this was, this raises another complaint I have about the film – there were bits in the trailer that weren’t in the film, and some parts of the film had been edited differently in the trailer to combine parts of conversations in such a way as to create completely new situations between characters.┬áThere is one exchange in particular in most of the trailers I have seen which goes something like this:

Mulder: "I need you with me on this one, Scully"

Scully: "That’s what scares me."

which, as far as I remember, never occurs in the film. I’m not even sure that Mulder’s line appears in the film, and so I suspect that it was spliced in from an out-take.

3. The writers hadn’t ignored the past. Mulder and Scully are together (in fact, they’re living together out in the middle of nowhere with Mulder something of a recluse, conveniently out of the FBI’s hair but no longer in any danger), and his situation with the FBI is explained and dismissed early on in the film.

4. The film wasn’t a highlights reel for all the previous ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes.

5. Whilst religion was shown as a meddling influence, Scully wore her Catholicism proudly throughout the film, and at no point was it implied that this was an impediment to her. In fact, she was a shining example of religion and science co-existing in (almost) perfect harmony. Some of the other characters did come across as bible-bashers, but it wasn’t the overwhelming theme of the film as I thought it might be.

Now to move on to the actual review of the film…

I enjoyed the film a lot, and was more excited about it than perhaps I realised. It was great to see Mulder, Scully and Skinner again, even though the latter only made a brief appearance, and clearly only to appease the fans. I was also secretly delighted to have been present at the release of this part of the X-Files saga, as I had come to the TV series long after it had finished. I will probably go and see it again in the cinema, and I will certainly add the DVD to my collection.

It wasn’t perfect though. There were flaws within it, some more noticeable than others. Despite the fact that this is a supernatural thriller, and the poster warned that it contained "strong violence and horror", there was little in the way of suspense or genuinely scary moments. The best quote I found from another review that sums up my feelings is this:

"The truth is, the mystery pales next to the best "X-Files" plots. But fans will appreciate sly references to past episodes, an unexpected appearance from an old friend and the still-poignant bond our heroes share." (taken from the NY Daily News.)

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

This coming Friday marks the UK release of the new X-Files film, ‘I Want To Believe’. I’m looking forward to seeing the film, though I have some serious reservations about it. The TV series ended in 2003, and was running out of steam (and more importantly ideas) for the last series and a half, and yet Chris Carter has seen fit to resurrect what is often worryingly referred to as “the franchise” (I would prefer it if they at least pretended that they were doing it to entertain the fans rather than just make more money from one of the best-known sci-fi brands around).

There are a number of specific things that worry me about the film, some of which may seem silly, and others which I consider to be more serious concerns. Amongst these concerns, both silly and serious are:

1. The casting of Billy Connolly as a religious man who receives visions. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get past the fact that it is Billy Connolly.

2. The fact that in the original trailer, there was a moment (after 46 seconds to be precise) where it was possible to see the entire film crew in the background of an aerial shot. Hopefully, this particular trailer’s shoddy moment won’t represent the standards of the whole film.

3. The rumours regarding the storyline seem to imply that the writers have ignored certain parts of what went before, and included others. When we left the TV series, Mulder and Scully were on the run from the FBI and Mulder had been sentenced to death. From the looks of things, in this film they are not working for the FBI any more, but aren’t on the run. Also, rumour has it that they aren’t a couple, even though they were in the TV series, and had had a child together!

4. The first X-Files film, Fight The Future, was part of the ‘mythology’, and as such formed a bridge between series five and series six. My main criticism of that film was that it seemed to try and be both a sci-fi film in its own right and a brief summary of what had happened in the previous five series’. This new film is supposed to be one of the standalone ‘Monster-of-the-Week’ stories, and I’m hoping they won’t try and stuff this full of the same sorts of things that happened in all the MotW episodes of the TV show.

5. Religion seems to be involved somehow in the story. Being an agnostic myself, I’m not particularly pro-religion, but I think that it is a cheap target for stories such as this. Most of the religious people in sci-fi are portrayed as brainwashed, progress-hindering, bible-bashers suffering from schizophrenia, whose visions are far more likely to come from the Devil than God, if they come from anything other than an over-active imagination. Surely it’s time sci-fi writers can come up with better ideas than this?

Obviously, some of these concerns are based on rumours, and I must admit I haven’t researched the plot in great detail, through a combination of laziness and a desire to go into the film without much idea what is going to happen. Once I have seen the film, I will write a review, and correct any errors I have made in this entry.