The X-Files was one of those television shows that comes along once in a while and seems to bridge the gap between cult and mainstream. It was a very popular show, but as with all good things, it came to an end. In 2002, the show finished up, and the franchise seemed to be dead. Rumours of a second film (the first being The X-Files, released in 1998) floated about but it wasn’t until last year that something concrete came about. And so The X-Files: I Want To Believe is released.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe abandons the alien conspiracy that ran so heavily throughout the series and instead attempts to create a stand-alone film, similar to the episodes of the series. Mulder and Scully have left the FBI behind. Scully is now a doctor, Mulder continues to investigate the paranormal, but by himself. Scully is approached by FBI agents seeking to find Mulder. They need his help finding an agent who has gone missing. Mulder’s reluctant, but he agrees to help. A psychic paedophile priest has been having visions of the missing agent. But are these visions paranormal phenomenon or is the priest a charlatan. Scully thinks the later, but Mulder can’t help falling into old habits.
Where The X-Files: I Want To Believe fails as a movie is that it feels like nothing more than an extended episode of the series. I understand that the Chris Carter wants to create a movie franchise that is basically an extension of the ‘monster of the week’ episodes that were so popular in the series. But to give the series the big screen treatment warrants a story that deserves big screen treatment. And unfortunately, that’s not the case here. If this had been a double episode of The X-Files, I’d have not noticed otherwise.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed the series, and own up to season 6 on DVD. It’s great to see the wise-cracking Mulder and the serious and doubtful Scully back together again. But the film feels like a TV movie. There’s little in the way of special effects and the story isn’t anything that really needed to be projected onto the cinema screen. The acting is perfectly fine. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson slot back into their roles perfectly. The heart of the film lies with Gillian Anderson’s Scully, and she certainly carries this part of the film fine. Amanda Peet and Xzibit feel like nothing more than guest-stars, and Billy Connolly, while perfectly fine in his role, doesn’t really add anything in the way of a devastating performance to the whole affair.
The film just feels like it’s something rushed, just for the sake of getting Mulder and Scully back on the screen. I’d have preferred if they had waited a while and gotten a story with a bit more substance to it. As it is, the film doesn’t even stand up to the better episodes of the television series. It’s a bit of a wasted opportunity, to be honest. Because the poor box office of The X-Files: I Want To Believe means that a sequel is unlikely. Which is a shame. The series had some really excellent stand-alone episodes. Had Carter taken inspiration from them, instead of going down a route that really lacked something compelling, we might have been treated to some of the old magic of The X-Files.