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X-Files the Movie movie review

X-Files the Movie: Fight the Future

As a devoted X-Files viewer, I am (like millions of others) familiar with the adventures of FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, government conspirators The Cigarette Smoking Man and The Well Manicured Man, plus a host of other arcane characters. But the question everybody is asking is what separates the film from the television episodes? The answer, not surprisingly, is that our two favorite agents delve further than ever before into a worldwide conspiracy, discovering that a global Armageddon may not be far away.

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In terms of budget, special effects and novelty, the movie is certainly far bigger than any episode aired on television. But strangely, it feels just a little too big - the full-scale plot, the menacing alien monsters and a semi-ridiculous climax all contribute to make this appear as simply a pumped up and over-bloated version of the TV show. But, as always, creator Chris Carter has taken some bold risks and, also as always, he manages to pull it off with the precision of a skilled writer and the subtlety of a bull in a China shop. After all, what would the X-Files be without its pumped up and over-bloated themes?

Capping off where the series left finds Mulder and Scully with no X-Files office to retreat to, and the privileges of ordinary agents. They investigate a terrorist bomb threat in Washington, but only after a building is blown to smithereens do they begin to realize that everything is not as simple as it seems. It appears as if two firemen and a young boy were intentionally killed in the blast, to cover up a deadly alien virus that has the potential to wipe the human race out of existence. Thus a new conspiracy is discovered, in which we find that The Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), The Well-Manicured Man (John Neville) and a mysterious abettor (Armin Mueller-Stahl, whom you may remember from Shine) are cleverly orchestrating. Oh yeah, and The Truth is Out There.

I guess it goes without saying that watching The X-Files on the big screen is a dream come true for many devoted followers. But, it isn't just a flick made for fans - although the movie thankfully doesn't re-introduce the characters, anyone who hasn't seen an episode on TV can easily get the gist of what's been going on for the last few years. However, the more dedicated fan will probably be disappointed by the absence of some characters (in particular, the elusive Agent Alex Krycek), and, most of all, the lack of the show's "leave it to your own imagination" approach.

Rob Bowman (who has directed multiple episodes of the show, plus episodes from others series' including Star Trek: Next Generation and Macgyver) has taken the directors helm and guides the film smartly, if not instinctively. He follows the screenplay (written by Chris Carter and a couple of others) with a dark, twisted grace, much to the help of cinematographer Ward Russel (Lawnmower Man II, The Last Boy Scout) who supplies some all-too-real looking visuals. Along with Mike Oldfield and Mark Snow's eerie editing to the already eerie title music, The X-Files is a totally absorbent and placidly spooky experience for the senses.

For a movie that isn't bolder, better or smarter than many of its previous episodes on TV (especially the cliff hanger season finale), it's a wonder it still works. Perhaps it is because the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully has stood the test of time, and the full truth is still not found, even when it is closest to them. Should there be another X-Files movie in the future (and I very much hope there will be), I would prefer to see Chris Carter direct it. Maybe then we would not only have another very good film, but perhaps he could also make something that tops anything we've seen before - making sure that the show's pumped up and over-bloated themes are dealt with in exactly the right hands.

Simon Feeney writes:

A devotee of conspiracy theories myself, I thought that the X-file movie, while being an extended episode, did justice to the genre.

It promised the truth, and it delivered it in the form of Martin Landau playing Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil, a character based heavily on the writings of dismissed writer, William Cole, a former Naval Intelligence Officer (so he claims) who knows the truth, as he saw the documents for MAJESTIC-12 and even filed them. Landau's straightfaced delivery of his lines is perfect, and underscores the importance of what he actually says.

The revelations that are made in the movie wrap up some of the unanswered plotlines from the last few series, but it is all very underplayed, so it didn't seem (to some of my friends at least) that anything great came out of it. And of course, it left more questions than were answered.

Best watched when you have old episodes on tape.

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From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 3 and a half stars
Luke Buckmaster

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Just the Facts:

Title: X-Files the Movie (1998)
Written by: story by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz; screenplay by Chris Carter
Directed by: Rob Bowman
Produced by: Chris Carter, Lata Ryan (executive), Daniel Sackheim, Frank Spotnitz (co-producer)
Edited by: Stephen Mark  
Director of Photography: Ward Russell  

The Players: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Blythe Danner, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Martin Landau,
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Filed: Jun-1998 : Last updated: 18-Nov-1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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