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X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner
Director: Chris Carter
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes (Theatrical), 108 Minutes (Extended)
Release Date: December 2, 2008

“I once investigated a series of cases involving unexplained phenomena for the FBI.”

“So you believe in these sort of things?”

“Let’s just say I want to believe.”

Film **1/2

Though I’ve never really considered myself a true die-hard fan of The X-Files television series, it’s a show I have appreciated over time and will find myself watching repeats of, especially the earlier seasons. And in the case of a show leaping from the small to the big screen, this is one show that really has the right kind of material and scope to satisfy an audience at the multiplex. That was certainly the case with 1998’s The X-Files: Fight the Future, which was actually released to theaters while the show was still on the air.

When the series ended its run in 2002, I never thought we would actually get another X-Files movie, especially on the big screen. Nonetheless, series creator Chris Carter surprised us (well, at least me) six years later with a new theatrical follow up titled I Want to Believe. Though there is much to appreciate here for any admirer of the TV show, the movie is kind of a letdown in the sense that it doesn’t deliver anything spectacular, which you’d think would be the case with a franchise coming back unexpectedly after six years and a loyal fan base awaiting its return.

Written and directed by Carter, the story does indeed pick up six years after the end of the series. Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are now living together in a secluded area, but are no longer affiliated with FBI. She now works as a doctor at a Catholic hospital, while he is still obsessed with all sorts of paranormal events. Both of them are about to find themselves in their former professions when the bureau requests their help in a current matter.

The case involves a missing FBI agent. The bureau has since been enlisting the aid of Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), a convicted pedophile who happens to have psychic abilities, not to mention visions involving the missing agent. But the case has reached a dead end, leading agents Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Drummy (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) to request Mulder’s assistance.

Mulder agrees to participate, while Scully is more reluctant to take part based on her feelings about her former profession. Nevertheless, they find themselves pulled into the case just as a second person disappears. Hopefully, they can make better use of the supernatural clues provided by Father Joseph and track down those who have been abducted.

The mystery starts out most intriguing, and by mid point I was hooked in and eagerly awaiting a big revelation at the end. Unfortunately, when all is revealed it’s nothing short of disappointing, leading us (well, at least me) to wonder why a franchise like this was re-energized six years down road only to provide a story with a truly mediocre payoff. And though I haven’t seen every episode of the series, I can’t imagine I Want to Believe adding anything remarkably spectacular to further advance the X-Files universe.

But the movie itself is indeed well made, and has a number of tension filled sequences. A pursuit sequence, midway in the story, is without question the highlight of the movie. The way that scene was cut together and executed left me very impressed, as did the tension provided by the opening scene in the movie.

Plus, it’s simply awesome to see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back together in their signature roles. Their chemistry is still undeniably sharp. Any devoted fan of the show will indeed appreciate the sheer notion of seeing Mulder and Scully working together once more.

Maybe it was a case of having way too high expectations, but having now seen the movie twice I can certainly say that The X-Files: I Want to Believe disappointed more than impressed. The story promises something big, only to deliver something that was far better suited for a made-for-TV movie. And when a movie happens to be an X-Files movie, fans deserve something a bit more extravagant.

Video ***

Despite being a screener copy of the movie from Fox, which usually contain countless compression problems and the frequent Fox logo appearance, the video quality wasn’t as horrid as I expected. Now granted, the final released product is sure to have a far better presentation, but as it stands the anamorphic picture on the screener copy was acceptable, with fine color appearance and picture detail.

Audio ***1/2

Not bad at all, given the screener disc format. The 5.1 mix accompanies this suspense piece quite nicely from beginning to end. The numerous sequences of tension are captured extremely well in the sound mix, as is the music score provided by Mark Snow.

Features ****

Fox has truly delivered in the extras department for this three disc release titled the Ultimate X-Phile Edition, which includes more than enough bonus material to satisfy X-fans everywhere. Disc One includes both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the movie, as well as a commentary with writer/director Chris Carter and co-writer and producer Frank Spotnitz. Also featured are two featurettes; “Chris Carter: Statements on Green Production” and “Body Parts: Special Makeup Effects”, as well as a Gag Reel, a music video for "Dying 2 Live" by Xzibit, Deleted Scenes and Still Galleries.

Disc Two includes what I think is one of the best DVD documentaries I’ve seen all year. It’s a 90 minute documentary titled “Trust No One: Can The X-Files Remain a Secret?” It covers a whole lot of ground surrounding the movie, as well as the entire X-Files universe, and includes interviews with many cast and crew members. The documentary is almost worth the price of the entire DVD!

Disc Three contains a Digital Copy version of the movie.

Summary:

While I was more than happy to re-enter the world of The X-Files, I was left wanting more than I got with I Want to Believe. It soars in spots, but ultimately doesn’t add up to much in the end. But I do recommend it to die-hard fans of the series, who may find more to appreciate.

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