>When I heard the news that Mulder and Scully would be returning to the big-screen, I was filled both excitement and trepidation.
Excitement because when the X-Files was on its game, it was one of the best shows ever made. And trepidation because, well, seasons eight and nine. Or as I call it–when Chris Carter got way too convinced he was some kind of genius.
So, a new X-Files movie. It could have been great, it could have been not so great.
Having seen it, I have to say it’s firmly in the middle.
It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. It’s a throwback to the old monster of the week stories with very few references to the overall mythology of the show. Long-time, hard core fans will catch a few Easter egg references to some of the best episodes and if you’re really eagle-eyed, you catch the Chris Carter habit of throwing in names of friends and family in the background. I caught at least two (the name of a store owner and the names in Mulder’s cell phone). But I am willing to be there are more.
Six years have past since Mulder and Scully went on the run to end the series. Mulder is still a recluse and Scully works at Catholic hospital. Her biggest case is a boy with an incurable disease–well, except for a radical treatment involving stem cells. Mulder lives out in the woods and….well, it seems he spends all day clipping out articles from the paper about strange cases. The FBI has a case, involving a possible psychic former priest who is leading agents to parts of bodies and has a connection to a case of a missing agent. The FBI needs Mulder and decides to forgive and forget if he’ll help them. Scully convinces him and soon Mulder is back on the case, dragging a reluctant Scully with him.
The story is about faith, which went along with some of the themes of the series. Mulder had absolute faith in the unexplained and Scully had her own Christian faith that developed over the series run. The movie starts with a lot of unanswered questions about how these two have had their faith shattered and are looking for something to believe in. Pretty soon the old dynamic develops where Mulder believes, but Scully doesn’t.
The biggest problem with the movie is that Mulder and Scully are kept apart too much. Scully has clearly moved on while Mulder hasn’t. This is supposed to provide some conflict and it does to an extent. But the best scenes are when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are together, playing off each other. When they’re not together, the movie doesn’t quite work as well and when the two are in conflict, it feels like they’re trying to keep them apart for dramatic purposes and not for a really organic reason. (As in organically dictated by the unfolding storyline).
Eventually, the plot threads all converge and we get an interesting finale and a promise for more, should the box-office results warrant it.
But is the journey worth the ride? Yes and no. I say that because Chris Carter is clearly trying to please too many people with the script by he and Frank Spotnitz. They create Mulder and Scully conflict but also have some scenes for those “shippers” who felt that Mulder and Scully just HAD to be together (I was never in that camp). They avoid too many connections to the conspiracy, settling for a monster of the week plot without the scariest of monsters. It ends up being a serial killer story with a possible connection to the psychic priest, but in the end the story tries to cover all its bases and have “everybody win.” That ends up being a bit unsatisfying.
Of course, the movie is visually well done and it’s nice to see some familiar faces again. The one recurring role that needed to be included was and the music by Mark Snow does a good job setting the mood.
I fear, however, that the movie came out too late. Not as in six years too late, but as in the week after the best movie of the summer. I have a feeling Dark Knight will eat X-Files lunch this week and this will be the last time we see Mulder and Scully together.
But it will leave you with a better taste in your mouth than the horrible series finale…
At least that’s something.