Screenwriters: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly
Running time: 104 mins
'Trust no one', urged the once-mighty show in its heyday. Well, any unsuspecting folks contemplating seeing this movie could do worse than trust those who say that The X-Files: I Want To Believe is a steaming pile of ectoplasmic gunk. That's putting it mildly.
The plot is shockingly turgid and poorly paced, revolving around the visions of a paedophile priest (Connolly) and various efforts to rescue kidnapped FBI agents from a Dr. Frankenstein-style experiment. Very little else actually happens, apart from a mind-numbing subplot featuring Scully's attempts to save a child's life via stem cell research.
Too much dramatic thrust relies on the reunion of Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson), when they would operate far better within the framework of an absorbing narrative instead of effectively being the story themselves. Both actors slip back into their roles easily enough, which cannot be said for co-writer and director Chris Carter - the man who used to crank out brilliant episodes of his show for fun in the '90s.
Bizarrely, several scenes end abruptly before they reach their dramatic conclusion and the script then wildly leaps off at a tangent, forcing the viewer to do some pointless dot-joining. Or at least those who haven't nodded off during one of Mulder and Scully's laconic drawn-out musings on faith.
The decision to make this episode a standalone entity rather than a continuation of the television show's alien-government conspiracy arc is noble enough, but only serves to ensure that the fanbase has very little to cheer alongside the snoozing casual fans. Not even a familiar face popping up during the climax can rouse the interest.
The whole affair is a real shame, as there was - and still is - plenty of scope to revive the franchise and continue the adventures of Mulder and Scully. Sadly, the discovery of a severed arm in the snow is the most exciting moment during the first hour.
The story desperately needed to be on a grander scale and contain some sense of danger or jeopardy for the world, or some eerie little green men at the very least. With a bit of scissor-wielding in the editing suite, this dismal movie could have made a mundane 45 minute episode of the show. That pretty much sums it up.
We all wanted to believe that the return of The X-Files could allow us to relive the mid-90s glory days, where we shuddered at shapeshifting aliens, hissed at the Cigarette Smoking Man and taped a big 'X' onto our windows thinking it was cool. Alas, this faith was misplaced.
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