Why are the FBI going to beat up the teacher from “Head of the Class”?

Theatrical Release Date: 07/25/2008
Director: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner, Callum Keith Rennie, Mitch Pileggi

It’s been 10 long years since the first “X-Files” movie and fans of the series have been anxiously anticipating a sequel that’s taken longer to make than some convicted felons. According to director/creator Chris Carter, the film was stalled due to a lawsuit (which he declined to elaborate on). Sadly, I think they should have just scrapped the idea entirely.

I was a fan of the show when it first aired but as the seasons went on, I grew apart from the franchise – though I did watch and, for the most part, enjoy the first feature film. What I liked about the “X-Files” franchise was the odd bent on reality and while it it became somewhat tiring to watch Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) chase aliens – at least that had a purpose.

In this new installment to the franchise, “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”, Chris Carter delivers a stand alone story. If you’ve never seen one second of the series or the first film, you’ll know what’s going on and all that you need to know about the dynamic between Mulder and Scully. That’s all well and good and I applaud him for realizing that so much time has gone by that you can’t expect everyone to remember all the details.

Carter also did a nice job of laying a few tidbits for the more serious fan. There are references to past events, many of which I’m sure even I didn’t catch, and most importantly, there’s a cameo for Mitch Pileggi who played assistant FBI director Walter Skinner. Halfway through the movie, I had given up hope of seeing him but was rewarded for my patience towards the end.

Speaking of patience, that’s what I had to have to sit through the film. The premise is somewhat titillating (saying more would be cheating) but has nowhere near the level of complexity and conspiracy that has driven the franchise all these years. As they uncover the truth behind a series of missing persons, the paranormal bent fans have enjoyed takes a turn for something you’d see on “CSI” or “Criminal Minds”.

Aside from the obvious reasons for comparing the plot to a TV show, all in all, the film felt like a two-part “X-Files” mashed into one. At least the first film had an outrageous plot involving a buried spaceship in Antarctica. The quest to uncover the events in that film took our heroes to multiple cities and involved a respectable amount of production design and budget.

With “I Want to Believe”, we’re treated to a series of FBI SUVs, snow, dogs, and more snow. There are fewer locations used than the number of people to walk on the moon. The MOON! (The answer is 12 men by the way). While one or two guns are drawn, there’s not one actual shot fired that I can remember and why in the hell is Xzibit being credited as Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner? Is he going to team up with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges to make a film about people with stage names they’re trying to discard for the sake of seeming “respectable”?

Random tangent aside, my main problem with “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” is that there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to have made it in the first place. Yes, the film centers on the relationship between Mulder and Scully and that angle was probably a nice resolution for longtime fans. However, the film on the whole took forever to get where it was headed even though all the checkpoints on the road had been clearly laid out for anyone with more than 9 chromosomes. The action was typical of anything you’d see on TV, the storyline was typical of anything you’d see on TV, the whole damn thing was typical of anything you’d see on TV.

So why wasn’t this just a made-for-TV movie? That’s a better question than the case Mulder and Scully try to solve in the film and as I continue to write and remember more things that annoyed me, I care less and less.

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” isn’t a terrible film. It just doesn’t do enough to justify its existence, the score by Mark Snow is the most over the top and mismatched collection of hackneyed banality since “Mission to Mars” and aside from the hardcore fans, I have no idea why anyone would rather see this than “The Dark Knight” right now and, as such, I can only hand Chris Carter and friends a 2 out of 5.

Oh, and if for some reason you do go and see this, there is something waiting for you at the end of the credits. I feel like spoiling it because I’m a jerk and still a little annoyed at how the film failed to meet my expectations but I won’t. I’m sure if you really want to know, a quick Internet search will provide the answer. All I will say is that it’s really … dumb. (Can you tell I’m annoyed?)