Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sundays with the X-Files - I Want to Believe Movie

In 2008, roughly six years after the series ended, a new X Files movie came to theaters.   X Philes were elated and then after watching it usually deflated (more on that later) but I Want to Believe was certainly an event.

I watched (well re-watched) this out of order.  I watched it just after finishing the first movie,  Fight the Future, which took place in between season 5 and 6.  It's an interesting juxtaposition.  At the end of Fight the Future Scully, who has been wanting to quit throughout the whole movie, has been revitalized and gives this whole we need to keep searching and fighting speech.  Fast forward ten years and you see just what kind of destruction has been wrought.

I think it's fair to say a lot of people were really disappointed with this movie.  It's not terribly cinematic, unlike Fight the Future, and it's really just an extended Monster of the Week type story.  Considering that the last we saw of our heroes, they knew the date of a massive alien invasion, it seems bizarre that the rare event of a follow up movie would not deal with that impending doom. But aliens and imminent Armageddon are ignored in favor of a very emo and somewhat lackadaisical MOTW.    It really seems to be more about checking in with our favorite duo and seeing how they are surviving in this new world of theirs.  It appears, they are struggling. 


It begins with an FBI agent being attacked while showing simultaneously an intensive search for something by a large group of FBI agents led by a shambling older civilian.  They find an arm, wounded in the same way as we've just witnessed the FBI agent maim her attacker.

Scully appears, looking older and working in a hospital.  She's obviously fully immersed in her job when one of the FBI agents we saw in the earlier scene appears and tells her they desperately need the help of Mulder.  She denies all knowledge of him and is basically pretty rude.  She heads home and walks into an office covered in newspaper clippings etc... and there's Mulder, looking a little ragged.  She tries to convince him to come out of hiding and help the FBI find this missing agent. She's worried about his isolation.  He's very reluctant and professes he's happy as a clam.  He finally agrees to go but only if Scully goes with him.  Scully does not seem pleased at the prospect. 

It appears that a former catholic priest (the shambling older civilian from earlier), a convicted pedophile, claims to be having visions of the missing agent.  He believes her to be alive but has few details.  You can tell that as soon as Mulder gets involved that he's jazzed.  The problem is he wants his Scully with him and she is less than jazzed.  In fact she quickly gets over her worry about Mulder's isolation and immediately moves to regret at getting Mulder involved. 

There is also a secondary storyline with Scully struggling to cure a terminally sick child at the hospital. She doesn't want to let him go but there are no treatments except highly controversial ones available. 

Meanwhile back on the case of the missing F.B.I. agent they go back to the original spot that Father Joe led them and they find all sorts of body parts.  Also another woman goes missing from the area. This leads them to believe that the culprits are targeting people for their organs to sell on the black market.  Mulder tries to use this to lure Scully into the case with him but it leads to a more fundamental discussion about how they are, in an essential way, different.  She can no longer "look into the darkness" with him and he can't help but jump right into the darkness.  It is who he is.  It is the same conflict as always and while she used to put aside her misgivings and follow him she is now standing her ground.  Now that he's back in the game, Mulder can't and won't let it go.

I won't reveal too much about the resolution of the movie but Mulder's perseverance pays off in the end and Scully  plays a role in the finale which is even more awful and weird than they previously suspected.  Mulder and Scully reconcile but it is not smooth or easy.

Final Verdict: 

Since the characters are the key to my love for this show, I liked it just fine though it is rather pale in comparison to Fight the Future.  It is indeed odd that they chose not to address the mythology arc at all but my guess is that they did not get the budget to do an all out alien invasion movie. 

It also made me really sad to see Mulder mouldering away in  his office of news clippings.  Maybe he doesn't just while away the lonely hours there but that is all that they let us see and considering how excited he gets about the case, I'd say that it is his first opportunity to really be involved in investigating in a long time.  Scully's response to his enthusiasm is somewhat frustrating as she seems to be saying "I followed you for 9 years in your crazy quest, now it's my time to do what I want"  but I think it's more nuanced than that.  The FBI agents that call Mulder in don't see Scully as remotely important; they don't realize how much Mulder relies upon and needs her.   I think what causes Scully to rebel is that Mulder keeps pushing her to come with him and she will not - she is done.  Which begs the question as to what will she be doing when the aliens invade?  It also begs the question as to whether they really should be together?

As a character study, the movie is gloomy and interesting.  As an X Files episode it is perhaps less successful. 

Great Scenes and Quotes

 (In bed at chez Mulder/Scully) MULDER:  I can hear you thinking. SCULLY: I can't sleep.  MULDER (trying to be seductive): I have a little something for that. SCULLY:  Just a little something?...  (later after talking for a bit) MULDER: "Just go to sleep. Let me curse God for awhile."

The scene where Skinner tries to reassure Scully by telling her that he knows Mulder and that he wouldn't do anything crazy and Scully just gives him this look like "are we talking about the same guy?" 

Other Random Thoughts

- Scully claims that it's Mulder's stubbornness that she fell in love with but he responds that it is why they can't be together. Which is really true.

-  Except when he is not, Mulder is a bona fide gentleman.  He first opens the door and helps Scully into the helicopter before he gets into the back. 

- Scully works at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital.  Seriously X Files?

- It appears Mulder finally got his wish of living in a farm house in the middle of nowhere (he expressed this desire in season 4's Home).

- There's sort of this weird moment where Mulder and Scully share a look over a portrait of George Bush and J. Edgar Hoover.  Not sure I get it. 

- There is a bunch of weird vibes from the young female agent who seems to be all hot and bothered by Mulder.  I get that of course but what's the point.  After he shaves his beard she's all flummoxed and she touches his face.   

The Rabbit Hole

Other Sundays with The X Files posts

So what I am really interested to know - the big mystery is - are there any other X Files fans out there that didn't completely hate this movie?

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