X Files – I Want to Believe (2008)

Rating 15
Length 1h 44
Release 1.8.2008
Director Chris Carter
About Though FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once chased things that go bump in the night, his tireless search for the truth out there has led to his professional exile. However, a missing-persons case leads to the agents’ reunion, along with an encounter with a priest (Billy Connolly) who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions.

First Things First

Right now, I’m sat kicking myself for not seeing this in the cinema. I worked there, for Mulder’s sake. I actually have a vivid memory. An almost ‘Sliding Doors’ moment in which I was done for the evening and the last showing of the day was about to begin. I passed up on the opportunity.
Now, it’s at this point I should clarify, I was possibly one of the strangest ‘fans’. I was such a fan that I wore a Mulder and Scully watch for at least 4 years, even though I’d probably only seen a handful of episodes.
Yeah, I was 8 years old when Scully was sent to spy on Mulder, so I was only allowed to press record on the VCR and watch up until that distinctive theme song. It wasn’t until 1996 or so when it had moved to Saturday nights, that I saw my first full episode. Can you imagine it; being banned from watching the show, but being bought the merch by the same parent?! Then again, this was the same person who, without fail, would buy me a board game every Christmas and refuse to play it with me. Go figure.
Much like a lot of my teens fandoms; Buffy, Star Trek and Angel… I fell a little out of love with X Files. I’d not taken it upon myself to do a rewatch (or a first watch) and I just felt very disengaged in 2008.
However, it’s now 2021. I’ve spent the last few months watching all 9 seasons, and one movie, leading up to this one. I’d been dreading it, I won’t lie.

The Good

  • It’s X Files. Even with its flaws, I’m in. You’re giving me Mulder and Scully. You’re in theory giving me together Mulder and Scully. What’s not to love. It certainly has its moments that will have any fan happy. When they’re together on screen, its frigging awesome.
  • It’s a story that is that perfect middle ground. It’s the supernatural rather than the mythology that, at times, bogged the show down. I love the alien shit, but I think the fatal flaw of the franchise is that it wavered too much on that line of ‘are the aliens real?’. At least this keeps it conspiracy lite. Well, except for the priest with a taste for choir boys.
  • Speaking of the whole pedophilia subplot. It was a powerful thing to address considering this would have still been a rather raw subject, for American viewers in particular. The Boston sex abuse scandal was only exposed in 2002. I’m sure Carter was trying to say something profound about this dirty secret of the Catholic Church. I’m not sure it works completely, but damn I’m still impressed he tried.
  • The editing in the opening was excellent. It was unsettling and lacking context, but it worked. It was something very different to what we’ve come to expect of X Files and it really got my attention.
  • Billy Connolly, while giving me the creeps, was a delight to see on screen. Rather strange to see him without his beard, but given his character I was glad of that disassociation.

The Bad

  • I struggled with Scully’s B-Plot storyline. It felt a little too contrived and almost a plot device hiding in plain sight. The film needed a bit of a change in editing (Like, don’t give me shifty looks to the Father, when the other one was a convicted pedophile, and not give me a resolution to that either way). It’s a shame, because when Gillian Anderson’s scenes worked, it was powerful.
  • This is the ‘ship that coined the term ‘shipping’. So why the fuck does the film play them off against each other for most of the movie?! Why, after EVERYTHING Scully has seen, is she still a skeptic? Both the relationship, and Scully herself are completely devolved to fit the narrative. It does all fans a disservice.
  • Our new Mulder/Scully, Dogget/Reyes. I don’t get them and they’re booted out of the script halfway through. While I adore Amanda Peet and she does an amazing job, put Agent Monica Reyes in that role and it blows the whole thing open and adds investment.
    Then there’s Xzibit as Agent Drummy as the overly-aggressive skeptic. The biggest problem being that there’s no chemistry between him and Mulder…. so he just ends up shouting.

The Ugly

  • That fucking beard! What the fuck, man?! I get that the film was trying to show that Mulder was not the same, but did we really need him to wear such a bad joke-shop stick-on beard?! It was cheap, it was tacky and it lasted so much of the movie.

Final Thoughts

There are worse episodes that feel way longer than this outing. It is flawed and I did shout “Oh, fuck off Scully.” At the tv screen. Something I’ve not done since mid-series 3.
As much as this was made as a stand alone to bring in the uninitiated, I doubt the franchise would gain any fans from watching this first.

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