It wasn't until after I had watched the movie that I realized the impossible task in front of Chris Carter. On a relatively small budget, he had to take a franchise that has been in limbo for most of a decade, and he had to bring it back to the public attention. If he put too much of the show's mythos into the movie, then casual fans would be left behind and newbies would have no hope. If he leaves out the mythos, then fans are disappointed and the project as a whole becomes close to pointless. He opted for a third choice, eschew the mythos but correct one of the large flaws (the super soldiers and a couple of character deaths come to mind) that cropped in the final episodes, possibly the largest flaw. Dana Sculley, a diehard half of the series from the beginning, was denied a true character ending. In the end, despite her mid-run protests of "This is not all about you, Mulder," she ends up getting swept along, made into one of Mulder's plot points. This return to X-Files could have went numerous ways, and the way it chose was to look at her struggles, at what it meant to her.
Does this work? The best answer I can give is something like "maybe". It is seriously troubled by the fact that you have a two part episode masquerading as a movie. One that has some great scenes, and some traditional X-Files humor, as well as several shots of amazing cinematography (Mulder facing the snowy field alone is probably the single greatest shot of the entire series), but still at two-parter stapled together without commercial interruptions and some TV-MA level material. You end up spending the price of a movie ticket, some candy, a soda - maybe $20 all told - just to get what probably would have worked better as part of a miniseries that needed one more episode or so tie it back into the pattern as a whole.
I won't really comment on the politics behind this movie. It is pretty clear that if the movie went over well, a third one will come out with a bigger budget and a conclusive feel to it. I don't really see it getting on all that well with critics. Those that were fans will feel cheated and those not fans will be unsure what they just saw. The fact that Fox released it right at the time of The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Hancock and Mama Mia seems to suggest that they want it dead and gone. Maybe a contractual fulfillment that was stiffed on both sides? I don't know.
I did enjoy it, though. Billy Connoly, who plays a psychic (self-proclaimed), repeat sex-offending ex-priest, is top notch as always. The new FBI agents could use a little work, but the hint of deeper hospital politics works. Duchovny and Anderson bring back old memories, but I think Anderson wins the show. Scully, as a character, tended to develop a crisis of faith over an episode and then drop it in the next. Mulder had his sister to drive the entire series. She would usually have a question about her role as Mulder's partner and then forget it by the next opening credits. Seeing her get a chance to question what it means to believe, to face the darkness, to let Mulder face the darkness, to let go of the past, to take chances, all was excellent. Anderson nails love and fear and hate. I am glad that I saw the movie, if for no other reason, I feel like she has been made into a finished character now.
If only the case that brought it out in her ended as strong as it began, instead of going just a little too much or not enough at the end. The first half of the movie suggests some strong additions to the overal mythos. The last half wraps it up just a tad too tight.
There is still no ending to the series then. Maybe. The ending of the actual series sort of showed the way things will turn out. Maybe this movie works as a somewhat ending in that it smooths some of the loose end bumps. I want more, but I would rather not keep paying big screen prices to see episodes that should have been if the original run had not been interrupted by personal issues and over-extended side digressions.
As a theater-going experience, it gets an Eh. As a progression of the X-Files mythos, it gets a Meh. As an examination of the overlooked Scully character, it gets a Good. As an answer to what happened between the two ex-agents (which so many fan boys really, really cared about) it gets a Great. The final tally will probably be Eh for me. I'm glad I saw it, but I see the problems it had. It is pretty, adds some side stuff to the series, but will probably be the curtain call on the most influential series of my teenage and early college years.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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