"The X-Files" Review
© 1998 Fontaine L.
- spoilers -

"You owe me nothing. I owe you everything."

Gosh, this is a weird feeling. This is the movie I've waited months if not years for. It's based on my favorite TV show on earth (and beyond). For about half the time during the movie I was either brimming with excitement or answering questions for other people. And now I have to do my movie reviewing thing, and I don't know where to start. I dont' know what I feel.

Well, I do know what I feel. Exhilarated. Excited. Happy. Disappointed. Confused. Sad. All at the same time.

Read this review, but keep in mind that I am a die-hard Phile and the circumstances surrounding my viewing. I may be biased. I need to look at this movie as if I'm someone who's never seen an episode of "The X-Files" before in my life, an audience just entering this mysterious world for the first time. I also need to look at it with a seasoned Phile's point-of-view. With that, I shall proceed.

Basically, I liked the movie as a summer thriller, but not as an extension of the TV series I know. And trust me, I know "The X-Files." This movie wasn't "The X-Files." It was a group of brilliant people trying to put too much into 2 hours worth of film. They tried too hard. Chris Carter wanted to satisfy both the diehard fans and the casual viewer. The result is one very confused Phile. The way they marketed the movie, I expected a lot of action in this movie (yeah, I know, never trust "The X-Files" teasers). I was both disappointed and pleasantly surprised. I guess I'm glad this movie did not turn out to be just another "Alien" spinoff or "Die Hard" type action movie. "The X-Files" is much smarter. There was a lot more of the television "X-Files" in this movie, with Mulder and Scully doing what they do best--investigating--complete with Mulder Ditches and Scully Rants. They are still the duo that is willing to go to the far reaches of the earth just to find a segment of the truth. The truth that still eludes us after five long seasons and a movie that promised to give some answers. Instead, we're right back where we began. I can't say I'm entirely unhappy with this, since "The X-Files" would be pretty dull if it didn't keep us asking questions. We're used to being lied to, being denied answers. We're suckers for it, and come sixth season, we're going to go back for more. But I cross into ranting territory.

As I said, this film is much smarter than the average action film. In fact I was a bit disappointed because it contained too much thinking and not enough acting. There was a lot of wasted motion, and lots of confusion as usual. Hell, this wouldn't be "The X-Files" if it wasn't confusing. I guess what I mean to say is, I'm disappointed that it didn't have more action because of what the trailor touted the movie to be, but on the other hand I wouldn't want it any other way. You can see the complex array of emotions here. In actuality it felt just like a blown up episode on the big screen - the result was something that just felt odd. I guess you'd have to be a Phile to know what I mean. I mean here you have a successful TV show that has been on the air for five years and is still going strong. It's award winning, critically acclaimed, and popular to boot. There's a lot at stake when you put that on the big screen. Given everything that could've gone wrong with this movie, I actually liked what I saw. As a Phile, I thank Chris Carter for that.

The Mulder-Scully relationship dynamic once again proves inspiring. Their interaction is just as alluring on big screen - from playful banter to another one-on-one talk about the Truth, the Answers, and Everything. Non-Philes take note: this is character development at its best. Once more I realize how much I appreciate David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. And when they stood in the hallway, sparks flew. Every delicate aspect of their relationship was explored - at least as thoroughly as possible in l00 something minutes. Mulder, the believer: "After all you've seen, you can just walk away?!" Scully, still doubting her role in Mulder's life: "You don't need me, Mulder. You never have. I've just held you back." And it's about time Mulder told Scully just how important she is. :D Alas the secondary characters weren't treated that well. Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and the Lone Gunmen are virtually wasted in the movie; I liked Martin Landau and Blythe Danner's performances, but they weren't given enough to work on with their characters. Armin Mueller-Stahl's character was unnecessary as well. The other members of the Syndicate, including CSM (Cigarette Smoking Man) and excluding WMM (Well-Manicured Man), seemed to have nothing better to do in this movie other than lounge around in a room and discuss really serious stuff. Yes, I know they're always doing that but I expected them to be more involved in some way. William B. Davis's deliciously evil CSM was allowed to be eclipsed by WMM (John Neville), yet I very much like the character development of WMM throughout the movie, and I do think he will resurface soon.

As I've mentioned at the beginning, part of what makes the film so hard to review for me is my incapacity to be completely impartial on either the Phile side or the movie-audience side. If I give a good review, I feel like I'm being too lenient just because I can't "betray" my show; if I don't, I feel like I'm nitpicking too much. It's true that seeing my favorite show suddenly become bigger and louder was awesome enough in itself. Rob Bowman did a great job directing as usual, and little facets that reminded me of the show constantly drove me into happy little reminiscencing bubbles - the cinematography, the Mulderisms and Scullyisms, Mark Snow's score, Scully's cross (I'm glad they remembered that!). Part of what made the movie less enjoyable for me was my own fault - spoilers on the net and my incessant need to view trailors of the show. Because every major action scene was included in the trailors (the corn field chase, the building explosion, the avalanche), when I actually saw them transpire on the big screen the result was less awe-inspiring and more tiresome. I guess there is such a thing as overkill.

The mythology. Part of what I did not like was the fact that Chris Carter seems to be repudiating so much of what he had said in the past and omitting so much. The Syndicate didn't seem like the Syndicate. Where was Krycek? Where was Marita? What happened to the black oil? Where's Samantha? The aliens we're seeing now are completely different than before too. Spaceships too. Where's the Bounty Hunter? Maybe I need to brush up on my mythology, but I think the XF mythology is just too convoluted and too vast to fit into one movie alone. Well, no matter, I doubt things are going to stay the same in the future. Who knows what these people will think of next?

But I've just crossed into XF territory. As many people have told me, this movie felt more like a two-parter, a cinematic version of a TV episode. If you're seeking action, this is not the movie for you. However, I would recommend anyone, whether you've seen "The X-Files" before or not, to have a look at this movie. You'll be instantly intrigued by the world of "The X-Files." These people spent five years on these characters--they can't go wrong. They know their characters. As I've watched Mulder and Scully pursue the Truth for five years, I know them as well. Imagine my exuberance, seeing them on the big screen (that is perhaps an understatement). Sometimes, nothing else seems to matter. Other times, the little movie critic voice in me notices flaws, plotholes, discrepancies, flat characters, hokiness, and people who just can't act. But this one is a true "X-File," however inadequate for the big screen. Too little was explored, too much remains hidden (time for a sequel huh? :) The movie is inconclusive at the end--in true "X-Files" fashion. Go see the movie. And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of Twentieth Century Fox's volunteer spokeswomen . Go see the movie and marvel at the storylines that have captured me for years on, even though it's lost some of its magic after the transition to big screen. It's a feeling I can't describe that only my fellow Philes can understand. I must conclude this review before it goes on forever. Mulder and Scully may not have found the truth yet, but I have faith in their journey. This is by no means a great movie, but it's great in its own places. I'm mostly satisfied, despite my qualms about the mythology mentioned earlier; I am most certainly happy with the new developments in the Mulder-Scully relationship. These two are finally taking a further step towards admitting their fears and love toward each other. This is the "X-Files" I know, with all I love about it and all I hate about it.

"If I quit now, they win."

I'm not going to rate this movie. (First viewing, 6/19/98)

*What's up with the Neanderthals? I think this is the first major summer blockbuster film that attempted to portray prehistoric cavemen. I laud them at least for that.

*I must say Mark Snow outdid himself again. Not only did he retain part of his magical TV score, he proved he could adjust to the big screen. Try listening to the score by itself. It seems to tell a story of its own. (It's interesting to note that during the movie, the score only served as a backdrop and was at most times hardly noticed at all).

*Gotta love Bitchy!Scully's line: "Don't think. Pick up the phone and make it happen."

*One of my favorite scenes throughout the movie: all hell breaking loose, Mulder giving Scully CPR, and Scully's "I had you big time."

*"If I had to describe XF the movie in one word it would be 'overwhelming'. . . CC may have pleased his larger 'target' audience, but as a Phile I was left feeling empty. The frosting was there all right, but the cake was missing. The entree was goulash." -- Val

*"While it may appeal to some of the non-XF community, in the end, fans will be the ones that get the most out of the movie." -- Ivy (duanebarry@yahoo.com)

*"One of my favorite things about [the kissing] scene was that you could tell exactly the moment when Scully realized that Mulder was going to kiss her. GA did this wonderful shift of her facial expression so that you could just see the realization." -- Cassandra (cassandr@m4.sprynet.com)

*"The risks that Mulder and Scully take in the movie go beyond anything they've ever done in the show. Basically all their actions are done on impulse, sometimes stupidly. I mean, they rarely did the rational thing. They seemed to liken themselves to a two-man army or something." -- Brian (gameraisfriendtoallchildren@yahoo.com)