MovieMantz Review: ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’

“The Zzzzz-Files”

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe”
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Directed by: Chris Carter

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then fans of “The X-Files” are going to love seeing former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully team up again for the first time since the award-winning TV show ended its 9-year run in 2002. Series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson must be pretty fond of the idea too, despite the fact that they were both so ready to put the show behind them that they barely bothered to show up for the beaten-into-the-ground final season.

But one has to wonder why they bothered at all with “I Want to Believe.” Co-written by series creator Chris Carter and series producer Frank Spotnitz, the story is so weak that it simply doesn’t justify the big-screen treatment. Unlike the first “X-Files” movie (1998’s “Fight the Future”), which was tied to the show’s complex mythology, “I Want to Believe” is a stand-alone movie that even non-fans will supposedly enjoy. That’s doubtful, since it’s nothing more than a padded, overlong episode, and it’s not even a very good one at that.

The benchmark of the TV series was the investigation of paranormal activities (monsters, UFOs, conspiracies) by two opposing FBI agents. Fueled by the search for his sister (who may or may not have been abducted by aliens), Mulder was the believer who took the more skeptical Scully under his wing. It was a mutually beneficial partnership, and their differing views complimented each other until they took their relationship to a more intimate level.

But it’s been 6 years since the FBI closed the book on the X-Files. Mulder is banned from his old digs, while Scully is now a practicing surgeon at a children’s hospital. Both are drawn back into the fold when a young girl goes missing, and a clairvoyant priest (Billy Connolly) may know where she is. As Scully tries to come to terms with her faith and Mulder simply tries to find his place in life, they both learn the hard way that the truth is still out there.

“I Want to Believe” is a textbook example of how not to turn a TV series into a feature film. All of the show’s signature moments are there: the classic theme song, the texted information at the bottom of the screen, and the eerie music by conductor Mark Snow. But the once-strong chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson is severely lacking, the assisting FBI agents played by Amanda Peet and Xzibit have no identifiable characteristics, and the very talky storyline takes far too long to take shape. In short, it just doesn’t “feel” like a movie.

If the film were half its length, it would have made for a generic episode of TV show’s first season. But generic doesn’t quite cut it for the big screen, and times have changed — what was fresh and innovative back in 1993 now feels stale and obsolete. Chris Carter may have created “The X-Files,” but he came up short in making it relevant as a feature film. The truth is still out there, but this time, it hurts: “I Want to Believe” is a disappointing bore.


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