JULY 25, 2008
I guess I have become incredibly skilled at Horror Movie A Day-ing; I was able to manage my time efficiently enough to go see a movie this year during Comic Con (despite more Bloody Disgusting responsibilities to boot). Last year, the three movies I watched were all taken in via 15-30 minute chunks (I think Penny Dreadful was watched over 5 different viewing sessions). I certainly never was able to watch one start to finish, let alone go off to a movie theater and see one (where I wasn't able to send texts, update my schedule, flip through the free crap I had amassed over the day, etc). But I was determined to see X-Files: I Want To Believe on its opening weekend, so I made sure to give myself a chunk of time "off" from my duties. Well played, BC.
See, the first movie was like a huge event for me. I remember driving to NY for the convention designed to promote it (even though there was one in Boston - Gillian Anderson was at the NY one so it was a better option IMO), and actually considering leaving my college orientation to see it at its first showing on Friday, June 19th, 1998 (yep, I remember the release date). I settled for a 7:30. But this one just hadn't excited me as much; I even passed up a press screening in favor of going to the New Bev. Still, I was more or less intrigued and hopeful that the new film would re-ignite my love for the series, which I used to watch 3-4 episodes at a time back when it first began being syndicated in the Fall of 1997.
I did not get my wish. And spoilers follow!!
Everyone (who cares) knows that this movie was not a "mythology" movie and would instead have a more "Monster of the Week" approach. Which was fine by me - the mythology had gotten so convoluted that half of the show's finale was devoted to poor Skinner (Shocker) explaining it all to the audience. But I didn't expect them to go SO far into "non-fans can get it" land. While Mulder's sister figures into the plot a little bit and Skinner is randomly inserted into the film about 10 minutes before it ends, it feels like Chris Carter and co. were using an unmade spec script from the show's second season as their template. William is mentioned once, almost off-hand; there is NO mention of Reyes, Doggett, or anyone else that isn't Skinner; and even the sister stuff is completely dropped after the first act.
Worse, the plot more or less hinges on Scully's non belief in supernatural events (it's really her movie, not Mulder's, perhaps to make up for the half-Scully-less first film). Which is kind of stupid, because she was pretty much a firm "believer" by the 7th or 8th season. It's one thing to still write off completely nonsensical things, but she is incredibly skeptical right off the bat of a mere psychic. And the movie eventually becomes a ripoff of Signs, as a seemingly throwaway line becomes the key element to resolving the plot.
Or lack thereof. Due to all the science vs. faith stuff, the actual horror/sci-fi elements are almost completely forgotten for large chunks of the running time. Also, anyone who sees the film will probably agree; the climax is one of the most half-assed in film history. It involves nothing more than Skinner holding a gun on some guys, and Scully hitting the bad guy in the head with a shovel. That's it. Even the TV show had impressive "battle" type scenes in the climax. The one here almost seems like an after thought.
All of this is even MORE of a shame when you consider that the first act is actually quite good. Like the show, we see a "happening" occur and then they work Scully and Mulder into the story. And since it's been 6 years (or 10 since the last movie), there's some catching up to do. These scenes are fun, because I've missed these two, and the little nods to the show (pencils in the ceiling, sunflower seeds, etc) made me smile. Also, the general idea (a psychic helping them find a serial killer) is perfectly acceptable; hell, it was the plot of quite a few episodes (including one called 'Beyond the Sea', which oddly aired later that night on TNT). I also loved the dark look and snowy locales, especially when the last four seasons were overall very warm and dry (due to the show leaving Vancouver for Los Angeles). But the movie reaches a turning point with the rather surprising death of one supporting character, and from there on it just feels rushed, half-assed, and just plain lazy.
I've already mentioned the climax, but the laziness isn't limited to there. Scully has a subplot about trying to cure a little kid of some obscure disease (call in House for this shit, and go fight monsters!). The parents say at one point that they want to stop the treatment and let God take control or whatever, but then the next time the story shifts to this dull subplot, Scully is still giving the kid the treatment. And the film's lone "monster", a two-headed dog, is never actually seen until it is dead, which is just plain silly.
Had this indeed been an episode of the show, it would merely be forgettable; a better one would be on the next week. But it's been six years, and the show is now defunct. The movies are the only new adventures we will get, and it's almost sort of a ripoff that no one (even Duchovny, who seems bored after about a half hour) really went to bat on this one. The dismal box office suggests this will be the last we see of the characters, which is just a tragedy. Even the series finale had some of the show's old spark and wit, not to mention a better use of its outstanding cast.
What say you?