The X-Files 2: I Want to Believe (2008)
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Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Callum Keith Rennie, Adam Godley, Alex Diakun, Nicki Aycox, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Marco Niccoli, Spencer Maybee, Denis Krasnogolov, Fagin Woodcock, Veronika Hadrava
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|Movie Review by Ben |
July 26th, 2008
The power of belief is an important one as well as one of the most frustrating. We always keep reaching points in our lives where it seems like things couldn't possibly get any worse than they already have, and then they do. Our last few years in America have not been great ones, and that's probably being a bit generous. They have been a great and utterly depressing example of how history keeps repeating itself. So what keeps us hoping for the best and expect the worst? That seems to be the central question posed to both Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in their latest adventure entitled "The X-Files: I Want To Believe." This marks the first time we have seen these two since the series finale six years ago, and their first time back to the big screen since their "Fight The Future" predecessor which was released about (what the?) a decade ago. Everyone is wondering if the fan base is still out there to support these two on their further exploits. Well, I want to believe that they will. Whether or not it will we will find out when those damn box office receipts come in on Monday.
How you feel about this new X-Files movie will depend on how you feel about the series as a whole. If you are a diehard fan of this series, you may be a little disappointed as this may not rank among the best episodes of the show. For me, I found myself liking this film quite a bit, and that's even though I felt that it could have been a better movie.
This movie has been successfully shrouded in secrecy for the most part, and the fact that the filmmakers and actors got away with that for the most part is amazing in this day and age of thoughtless internet spoilers. I guess I can tell you this much. Mulder and Scully no longer work with the FBI, but they are living together far away from the roving eyes of the Bureau. Dana (Gillian Anderson) has since become a doctor at a Catholic hospital where she is caring for a sick boy who has an illness that is not treatable. It shakes her faith that a child can be brought into this world, only to be struck down with a seemingly terminal disease. Mulder (David Duchovny) is still wanted by the FBI for a string of bogus charges and remains as sardonically humorous after all these years. Then one day, Scully is met by Agent Mosley Drummy (played by rap artist Xzibit) who says that both Mulder and her have been asked by the FBI to come help them out on a crucial case that they seem more equipped to deal with than anyone else. All will be forgiven, and the past is the past they say. After some thought and predictable hesitation, they fly into the FBI, stare at a picture of George W. Bush and look at each other as if it is proof that he is not of this world.
Talking about a movie like this can be complicated because it can be too easy to give away a lot of things. What I can tell you is that it involves the psychic visions of a defrocked priest played very well here by Billy Connolly. The fact that this Catholic priest is also a convicted pedophile does not help matters. The priest's visions involve crimes that have been committed in an area, and he has managed to lead a team of FBI agents to places where key pieces of evidence are found. Scully is disgusted by this man and his crimes, but Mulder who has dealt with psychics in the past is willing to hear them out. That's all I will say about the plot. This is indeed a stand alone movie from the series, and while having some knowledge of the show and its main characters helps, it is not entirely necessary.
Some movies have plots that are an excuse for a lot of grandiose action scenes that soon spin way out of control. Other movies have crimes of a gruesome nature to get at a strong theme at the heart of its plot. "The X-Files – I Want To Believe" is more like that the latter, and it finds its strength in the strong and complex relationship between Fox and Dana and how they always want to expose the truth that cannot remain hidden forever. Through these journeys they take with each other, they find themselves despairing over the state of the world and lose their faith in a higher power, as well as (of course) each other. While it is a little exasperating to see Mulder to say over and over to Scully that "I need you on this with me," the loss of hope and belief they have in the world threatens to be more frightening than any extra-terrestrials they might ever run into.
David Duchovny slips back into the role of Fox Mulder as though he never really bothered to leave it (how could he anyway?). It's always fun to see his dry humor on display here, and he has his share of funny quips throughout the movie as he tirelessly get to the truth which is also being fueled by a never ending quest in his life that shall we say is family related. Gillian Anderson, outside of "The X-Files," has proven to be an extraordinary actress in films like "The House of Mirth" and "Bleak House" among others. The fact that she manages to step back into the character of Dana Scully is almost extraordinary considering that she has done much to distance herself from her most famous character of the years. She remains a great actress, and she has one of the movie's best scenes where she finds herself wanting to believe in something so strongly that she brings herself to meet up with Billy Connolly's defrocked priest. The fact that her character is in such harsh yet understandable judgment of this man does not free her from any judgment that is laid right back on her.
Also on board for the X-Files ride is Amanda Peet, and she is a strong presence here as she is in any other movie she does. Amanda plays ASAC Dakota Whitney (cool name) who is the one largely responsible for getting Mulder to come back to the FBI as she admires the work he has done in the past (oh, so she's the one). Xzibit, on the other hand, is a dull presence here as her partner.
I can't help but expect more from him even if he isn't a professionally trained actor. As for characters from the show's past, I leave you to see the movie to see if any of them end up showing up in the film at all.
Series creator Chris Carter directed this film, and while any powers of action and excitement are not in high enough supply, he still directs his actors well and gives the story a good dose of a suspenseful nature even after we find out who the main culprits are. "Fight The Future" may be the better movie of the two as it is more entertaining and more thrilling, but "I Want To Believe" does have a stronger story that is more focused. Could this have been a better movie? Yes. But for what it was, I liked it a little more than I thought I would, considering the number of bad reviews this movie has received so far. I had no real expectations going into this movie, so there was really no way for me to feel let down. I think there is enough juice in the series for another feature film, but only time is going to tell on that one (not to mention the box office). The ideas that the movie generates give it a chilling enough atmosphere (along with Mark Snow's strong film score) for me to give it a positive review. Like the main characters, I want to believe that things can get better, and theme of the movie could not have come at a more appropriate time when things can't seem to get much worse.
By the way, be sure to stay thru the end credits. Trust me, the truth is out there before the lights go up in the theater and the ushers kick you out.
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