Oh, I wanted to believe. I REALLY wanted to believe.
WARNING: If you have not seen “The X-Files: I want to believe” and want to, do not read this.
I loved the X-Files when it was on TV so I really wanted to enjoy the movie. I wanted to believe so much that I kept believing it would get better throughout the entire movie. This is going to get good any minute. Any time now it is going to make sense. I chanted that to myself silently throughout the film and was chanting up until the closing credits ran. It never got good and Chris Carter et al should never be allowed to make a movie again. Ever.
Why was it so bad? It’s hard to know where to start. If your characters are good people will follow them anywhere. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were the heart of the series and are two of my favorite TV characters ever. My core problem is with them. Never before have I seen two characters resist change so vigorously. Anyone who watched the show is familiar with the general story arch we always got. Mulder believed all sorts of crazy things and Scully was a skeptic. Fine. That worked for however many years the show was on but now it seems they have had reset buttons installed where any insight they may have gained earlier is gone. Their dichotomy is one thing that makes this team work but in this film they were both static. Duchovny was actually the best part of the movie but I wanted to throttle Anderson. The Scully on TV was a skeptic, the film Scully was a bitter bitch.
The plot didn’t help matters. Aside from the very gratuitous scenes reminding you of the show (Mulder still eats sunflower seeds and throws his pencils at the ceiling, fascinating I know) the movie could not really decide if it was about the Mulder/Scully relationship or the case they were trying to solve so you never really got enough of either. The film, I guess, takes place in the present day, some six years since the last film. Scully is a practicing doctor at a hospital – and here I must digress. The scenes where Dr. Scully is in the hospital killed any credibility for me. Seriously, she supposedly joined the FBI right out of med school and never did a residency. Maybe she did it since the last movie. Maybe I can give them that. I cannot, however, believe that a responsible physician would look up a highly dangerous and experimental procedure on the internet and then perform it herself. Also if she is a primary care doctor, she would not be a surgeon. Especially not a brain surgeon. (Is that too nitpicky?)
Anyway, Scully is a doctor with a very sick patient and Mulder spends his days clipping articles about random things and tacking them to walls in his home office. The FBI charged him with something (we never learn what) and he is a bearded (BAD look) recluse who is not married to Scully but they are together. When the FBI reaches out to Scully to find Mulder she replies “I don’t work with Fox Mulder anymore.” The only reason they go through her is so she can say that line because two minutes into helping the FBI she has a hissy fit and yells “Mulder, this is not about saving your sister!” Another gratuitous reminder of the show put in there just to give Scully something to say.
The case involves an FBI agent who has been kidnapped and a psychic who has been helping the FBI. The lead agent (Amanda Peet) needs Mulder’s “insight into psychics.” The catch? The psychic is a Catholic priest, wait it gets better; “Father Joe” (Billy Connolly) is also a pedophile! No! Did I mention Scully’s hospital is run by the church? Anyone remember she was a huge Catholic? (Side note: how can someone be so immune to new ideas and have so much ‘faith’?) Conveniently, the agent disappeared close to where Mulder and Scully live so she can continue to work at the hospital while he works on the case.
The movie gives you a taste of what the Mulder/Scully romance is like but not enough to really care about it. They are in bed one night and she can’t sleep because of her really sick patient and then he can’t sleep because of the case and they talk about a child, who apparently died, but never scratch the surface. By not allowing us to care about them, the romantic scenes are just gross. I felt like I was in the fifth grade or had turned in to Fred Savage from “The Princess Bride” Oh, gross. They’re kissing again! Do we need to see the kissing parts?
The irony is that while we are not catching up with our old friends, we aren’t really getting a good mystery, stand-alone X-Files story either. The case starts out well enough but then as we get interested, everything moves too fast. When another girl is kidnapped, her car is found later that day. When Mulder is driven off the road and a snow storm hits his car is also found really fast. Scully is able to get help from their old boss, Wayne Skinner, and they both find Mulder and rescue everyone in about five minutes. Whaa??? One thing, I liked about the show was they always seemed to point out that just because a certain theory can work, and may make sense, that does not mean it explains what happened. Where the show had creativity, this was rushed and way too neat.
I’d give kudos to Chris Carter for making a stand alone movie rather than one with that conspiracy that even he never understood, if the result didn’t SUCK.
That’s two hours of my life I am never getting back.