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X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE

Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Mitch Pileggi
Director:  Rob Bowman 
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono 5.1, DTS, Dolby Surround (English and Fench)
Video: 
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length:  123 Minutes
Release Date:  January 23, 2001

Film ***1/2

Of all the TV shows that originally seemed doomed to ultimate failure, The X-Files was at the top of the list when it debuted to a generally unresponsive audience in the fall of 1993.  Mocked by critics as a “ridiculous cult show,” and largely ignored by audiences, the show that featured two FBI agents, one a believer and the other a skeptic, as they encountered the unexplainable, was ranked 167 out of 170 in the ratings.  But although many ignored The X-Files early on, it quickly picked up a sizable cult following, appropriately calling themselves “X-Philes,” that was able to save the show from cancellation until it picked up mainstream popularity by the third season.

Needless to say, after five years and nearly 120 episodes, The X-Files “mythology” of alien abductions, secret experiments, and government plots to conceal the truth about extraterrestrials, had been hinted about and played up so much, that many fans, were wondering just when they hell they’d get some answers.  In response, series creator Chris Carter faced the daunting task of making a movie that could both stand on its own and be entertaining to audiences not familiar with the show, while not “dumbing-down” the series so much that it seemed like it had sold out to the original X-Files fan base.  But did he succeed?

While a few complained that the movie is either too glossed over and doesn’t answer anything, or that it is too “mythology oriented” and tells an awkward and murky story that confused the hell out of them, I believe overall that the movie succeeds. 

For one, Carter, simply in successfully bringing a television show to the big screen, which can often itself be a disaster (Charlie’s Angels anyone?), does a great job accommodating both fans and mainstream audiences.  While the movie is very action oriented, it still retains the flavor of the X-Files through its clever dialogue, solid characters, nail biting suspense, and an awesome intro, which is a trademark of the show. 

What I loved especially about the movie was that it also presents a plot that can be understood on many levels.  For a frequent X-Files fan, some events, cameos, and “in-jokes,” can be understood in the grand scheme of the television show’s “mythology,” thus enriching their experience in regards to the show.  But at the same time, those same characters are also presented in such a way that is understandable for someone who doesn’t watch the show.  Chris Carter has to be given credit for an incredibly versatile plot/script (which I won’t ruin for you).   

Adding to the intriguing plot is the direction given to the film by Rob Bowman, who did a fantastic job in his directorial debut, providing marvelous shots including thundering explosions, stunning landscapes, and even shots that made the viewer feel trapped and confined and thus more apt to be in suspense.  Bowman, who directed over a fifth of the TV episodes, shows his talent and manages to preserve the “look” of the X-Files while transitioning from the television to the silver screen. 

Finally, although not given the credit they deserve, both the TV show and movie’s success is really due to the fine acting by stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, who seem completely at ease with each other in providing a believable friendship and respect between Mulder and Scully.  These two actors do more than just look scared or dumbfounded when the unexplainable happens.  While the show always seems to emphasize the “X” in the X-Files, the heart of the show is really watching how two people, both incredibly intelligent and driven, face the same situation and work together. 

All in all, X-Files provides great entertainment either for a hardcore fan, or for just someone wanting to pop in a great DVD filled with action and suspense.

Video ****

When X-Files was originally released, many were disappointed to learn that Fox had once again dropped the ball and that there was no Anamorphic transfer.  This time, Fox has included an incredibly good Anamorphic transfer that is not only a marked improvement over the original, but also one of the better releases they have produced. 

The colors are displayed beautifully, from wonderful pans over brown deserts, to the breathtaking frozen tundra over Antarctica.  The visual problems that were slightly visible in the initial release are not here.  Overall, a wonderful reissue by Fox!   

Audio ****    

Being a huge fan of DTS, I almost flipped when I heard that the re-release would contain both a Dolby Digital and DTS track.  The Dolby Digital track is the same as the track on the previous release and was very well done.  Surprisingly, the sounds are uncharacteristically aggressive (well, certainly when concerning the X-Files), with the sound playing an active role throughout the movie.        

Whether it was helicopters flying by, explosions going off, creatures scurrying around, or just the score, the surrounds were able to have fun.  The dialogue as to be expected is generally towards the front soundstage while the subwoofer aggressively pounds out the deep notes on the .1 LFE.

Supplements ***1/2

Included are the same supplements from the original release.  First were three really good trailers, followed by a nice special “Truth Behind the X-Files,” which discusses the major problems in making the X-Files, how it was brought from television to the movies and, finally rounding out the package, a great commentary by series creator Chris Carter, which is really informative and well done.

Summary:

In conclusion, this is a very well done film which should entice fans of the show both new and old.  This is a strong movie backed up by a strong story, a strong cast, a great audio and video transfer, and nice supplements.  A great re-issue by Fox.  Unabashedly recommended!