Sunday, August 10, 2008

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

Year: 2008
Director: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, Xzibit, Mitch Pileggi

I remember back in my younger days when I would quickly finish my dinner so that I could put myself in front of the idiot box and catch the latest episode of The X-Files. I watched with great interest as the spooky and ready to believe guy Fox Mulder teamed up with the sceptical Dana Scully to solve the latest mysterious case thrown in front of them. And they did so with bravado and plenty of humour and drama as they faced demons, vampires, monsters, ghosts and the little green men the government are so bent on keeping secret.

And now after nine seasons and one feature film, Mulder and Scully are back. But in an age where TV is now ruled by cantankerous and horny doctors, prison breaking brothers, superpowered heroes and Jack Bauer, can the dynamic duo find their place in our world?

In this second film, we begin a long way from where the show ended. Mulder is now in hiding after having his work discredited by the FBI. Scully is now a surgeon in a hospital, trying to save a young boy who's gravely ill. The FBI approaches the duo for a consult when one of their agents goes missing. Their only lead lies with Father Joe, a psychic priest who has visions of the missing agent and her captors. The FBI want Mulder to test Father Joe's credibility as the latter is a convicted paedophile.

Mulder of course wastes no time in believing the man, especially since Father Joe's visions lead the Feds to vital clues regarding their missing agent. But Scully isn't convinced, and she would rather not be a part of this case, preferring to focus on saving her dying patient. And then another girl falls victim to the same man. Can Mulder persuade his partner to follow him once more?

As a fan, I must say that I expected just a little more quality out of this film. It's by no means bad, but it isn't great either. Chris Carter, creator of the show and director of this film, is nice enough to put the conspiracy theories and Area 51 crap behind him and give us a stand alone story for this one. In fact, I'd say he did so in order to focus on the real appeal of The X-Files: Mulder and Scully.

Duchovny and Anderson still have it in delivering their characters the believability and charm we loved so much in their heyday. But still, the effort seems forced at times. They aren't as young as they used to be, and it shows. However, they make up for it by giving enough chemistry when it matters. In this film, Mulder and Scully behave a lot like an odd married couple, arguing when their principles clash, then kiss and make up later. Billy Connolly lends good support as Father Joe, playing a type of character I don't think he's tried before.

The story itself isn't as paranormal as the things the former agents had faced in their past. The villains may be strange and dark, but not out of this world. The film serves more as a message to us, that is to never give up, regardless of what it is we're fighting for. It comes loud and clear, but I think it's the delivery of the message that could be improved.

A piece of nostalgia for X-Philes, but a lot of improvement can still be done. And that's coming from a fan. (3/5)

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