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The X-Files (1998) – Movie Review

X-Files: Fight the Future movie poster art

Directed by Rob Bowman
Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Blythe Danner

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

It is my sincere hope that someday, thirty years or so in the future, when Hollywood gets around to doing a remake of The X-Files movie (which you know they will), they make one better than this turned out to be. Basically, hardcore X-Philes should catch a matinee and have a blast, but anyone else should stay away. Before I start ranting, here’s the synopsis: Agents Mulder and Scully (Duchovny and Anderson, respectively) run around and investigate weird goings-on for the FBI (or rather, despite the FBI). Their project (“The X-Files,” it’s called, natch) has recently been shut down and they’ve been relegated to an FBI office in Dallas. There they stumble onto a bomb threat, which leads them deeper into the conspiracy they’ve known was going on all along.

First, what I liked about the movie. I treated this movie like any other movie, forget the fact that five seasons of character development have already gone on. I liked the characters and the interaction between them. Additional cast members such as Landau and Danner were sufficient, and Mueller-Stahl was his badass creepy self. I simply did not like the movie they were in.

Now, first let me say that I am a fan of the TV series. For someone who doesn’t watch TV, I would often take time out to watch an episode or two. I like what the series has done for TV, making it safe for other bizarre shows. I like the characters on the show. However. The people responsible for the series should obviously not have been the ones to bring it to the big screen, because the two hour, ten minute film could have been better presented as a forty-five minute episode or at the very least a one hour, thirty minute TV movie. Someone who had skill at editing needed to get a hold of this thing.

At no time did I feel any suspense during the course of the film. Forget about the fact that there’s no way in hell Mulder and Scully are going to be in any real danger because we know they have one to two more seasons of the series left. Even accepting that, the “Oh my gosh, is he going to fall?” and “Oh my gosh, is the monster going to get him?” sequences were laughable at best. Not only were they pulled straight out of the Scary Movie 101 Textbook but they were elongated (“Perhaps if we make them wait five minutes for the monster to go ‘boo’ it’ll be scary”). A particular scene with Mulder and Scully being chased by a Soul Coughing song through a cornfield went on for days. I wanted Mulder to find Scully bound to a cross, covered in straw, with Malachi standing next to her. Then it might have been worthwhile.

The pacing of the film was fine starting out with the bomb sequence, but after that it went straight into the ninth circle of hell. So much so that I almost fell asleep toward the end. The narrative was in no way engaging, but convoluted to the point where instead of living up to the hype that the truth would be revealed, it buried it and I’m not even interested in looking for it further. It wasn’t that I felt I did not know what was going on during the course of the film, but rather I don’t think Chris Carter and company know what’s going on. All we needed was Isabella Rosselini in the buff and you would suspect David Lynch was in charge. This was nothing less than a bad episode of The X-Files drawn out to feature film length, and unfortunately, nothing more.