Before I comment on the new X-Files movie, let us first go back in time fifteen years to when it all started. It was September 1993 and I was avidly watching (as any Evil Dead fan would) the new Bruce Campbell vehicle The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. Then, one fateful night, I happened to catch the first five minutes of the show that came on right after Brisco called The X-Files. That episode was “Deep Throat”, the second one ever to air. I was immediately hooked. I recorded every episode and dubbed copies for my friends, endoctrining them all into watching the coolest show on television. As the show’s popularity increased, I became obsessed with the mythology and mulled over every detail of the show. I joined the first official fan club (run by two sisters in New Hampshire) and went to an X-Files convention held here in 1995. The X-Files is also the main reason I came online that year, getting a shitty (and expensive) Delphi account with its dos-based web browser just so I could have access to X-Files images and alt.tv.x-files.
So, six years later, a new X-Files feature film is upon us. The general consensus from people I talk to, whether they were fans of the show or not, is a resounding ‘meh’. I’ve also heard ‘why now?’, ‘too late’, and ‘pointless’ bandied about. I heard these opinions, even somewhat agreed with them, but still felt an obligation to revisit a franchise that was so near and dear to my heart not so long ago.
Watching X-Files: I Want To Believe was a very strange and surreal experience that is hard to describe. I felt very displaced. The world has moved on since the end of the show and it was clear early on that this movie, as most suspected, is five years too late. I’ll give you a perfect example. When Duchovny first came onscreen, I thought of Hank Moody (his current character on Californication). That’s how long it’s been! I don’t even really associate him with Mulder anymore. I won’t really go into details about how I felt about where they took the characters in the interim because frankly, I didn’t care that much. And that’s the tragedy here. So much time has passed since The X-Files was relevant that I felt totally disconnected from it. I don’t blame either Duchovny or Anderson for this because they were as good as ever, but everything else seemed out of whack. The story was fairly standard and driven forward by some outlandish MacGuffins that were really hard to overlook at times. There were some good moments though. Mulder’s one-liners are still on, there were a ton of Easter eggs for X-Philes to pick out and my man Callum Keith Rennie shows up as the villain. However, none of that changes the fact that X-Files: IWTB felt like an elongated episode and not one of the stronger entries either. I don’t remember it being that way with 1999’s Fight The Future. That seemed like a bigger, broader and more polished extension of the show, which also served as a clever bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons.
So, in the end, X-Files: IWTB is a take-it-or-leave-it experience. As a movie, it is fairly average, but as part of the X-Files canon, it fails to live up to the high quality of the show in its prime. This should really upset me as a fan, but as I said before… Meh.