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The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/2/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/8/2008

While I'm sure that most actors would be glad to have any job, for years, films have been considered the pinnacle of success. Many actors get their start on television, and the goal is to make that leap into theatrical features. (Although, we've seen a shift in that in recent years, as actors like Charlie Sheen, Jason Lee, and Alec Baldwin have found a home on TV.) Exposure on TV is good, but a movie says that you've made it to the big time. Television shows themselves go through a similar process. Being a hit TV show is great (and if recent history tells us anything, a rarity), and several popular shows, such as South Park, The Simpsons, and Reno: 911! have taken their act into theaters for a feature film. The X-Files has had not one, but two feature films. First with Fight the Future in 1998 and now with The X-Files: I Want to Believe a decade later. But, if this movie is any indication, The X-Files has worn out both its ideas and its welcome.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe takes place in real time, about six years after the finale of the TV series. FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have gone their separate ways. Mulder is living in exile due to the fact that he's wanted by the FBI, and Scully, who was trained as a medical doctor, is working in a hospital. As the story opens, FBI Agent Monica Bannan (Xantha Radley) is attacked and abducted. Agents Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Mosley Drummy (Alan "Xzibit" Joiner) are assigned to the case, and being assisted by Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), a disgraced priest who claims to have had psychic visions about the crime. When Crissman is able to lead them to a clue, Whitney decides that she wants assistance from Mulder, who has experience in matters outside of the ordinary. Scully is approached, and in turn, she contacts Mulder, who is told that all will be forgiven if he lends a hand. He reluctantly agrees, but insists the Scully aid in the investigation as well. Mulder and Scully meet Crissman and, as usual, Mulder is quick to have faith in the man, while Scully is skeptical. Is Crissman really psychic? If so, Mulder will have to find a way to channel the man's powers, as another woman has been abducted, and the case becomes a race against time.

While The X-Files grew in popularity over the years, I was there at the beginning, watching the show from the first episode. (Fox used to have a great Friday night line-up.) I introduced my wife to the show when we were first dating, and she became a fan as well. The show was very dichotomous and episodes fell into one of two categories; some were stand-alone episodes which featured the "monster of the week", if you will; others brought forth a government conspiracy which Mulder uncovered. I found that the conspiracy episodes were way too convoluted and I always preferred the individual ones. These shows featured what I think is some of the most clever and creative sci-fi/horror writing of my generation. I eventually gave up on the show because the conspiracy kept going nowhere. The good news concerning The X-Files: I Want to Believe is that there is no conspiracy to be found. However, there's nothing to remind us of those great, scary stand-alone episodes either.

There has been talk of a second X-Files movie for years, and the report was that everyone was waiting on the right script. After all of this time, this is the story which was chosen? Other than the presence of Mulder and Scully, this doesn't feel at all like an X-Files project. Crissman's psychic ability barely qualifies as sci-fi and there's some fringe science at the end. That's it. The rest of the movie is simply a police procedural with the standard interrogations and foot-chases. Series creator Chris Carter, who also directed and co-wrote the movie, had stated that he wanted to make this a movie which would be accessible to non-fans. Well, where is that movie? Again, I watched the show for several years, and there were several important plot references here that I didn't grasp and that the movie didn't try to explain.

Whether or not The X-Files: I Want to Believe resembles the TV show is actually secondary to the movie's biggest sin; It's boring. No, strike that -- it's incredibly boring. The X-Files always focused more on psychological scares than on action, but it was rarely boring. The X-Files: I Want to Believe creeps along at a snail's pace, and although there are two "action" scenes, there is no suspense here. To make matters worse, the entire film takes place against the snowy backdrop of West Virginia. Is the white landscape supposed to inspire a sense of isolation? All that it inspires is a sense of monotony, as we feel that we are looking at the same shot over and over. When the finale comes, there is an irrepressible feeling of "Really? That's it?". After waiting years to make this movie, and after making a conscious decision to exclude the conspiracy storylines, Carter should have made this an exciting movie, not something which literally stinks on ice.

I can't imagine this movie satisfying anyone, be they newcomer or long-time fan. The movie is slow-paced and doesn't feel original. It fails to capture the sense of the TV show and the main characters could have been replaced with anyone else. Much of the main featurette in the special features deals with how the script was kept under wraps and the crew weren't allowed to read it. Why? I could describe the entire movie to you and it wouldn't give anything away. Based on the reception that the film received, this may be the last X-Files project, which is sad, because I Want to Believe that there is a better X-Files movie out there somewhere.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe doesn't get scary on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The Disc contains both the Theatrical (1:44:27) and Extended (1:48:07) cuts of the film. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is undeniably sharp and clear. As noted above, most of the movie takes place in snowy environments, and the fact that these shots show very little grain is a testament to the clarity of the image. There are also no defects from the source material. The landscape shots look good, showing a nice sense of depth. However, close-ups of the actors don't share this trait, and look unusually flat. The colors look fine and although the movie takes place in either snowy daytime or dark nighttime, the image is never overly bright or dark. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done here, as they are detailed and show good stereo separation. The surround sound effects are good as well -- just listen to the helicopter fly around us during the search party scenes. There's not an abundance of subwoofer effects, but a car crash reminds us that they are there. The Disc also gives the viewer the option to listen to the score on an isolated 5.1 track.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz. (On the Extended Cut, one can view a VIDEO COMMENTARY by these two.) The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. None of these add anything new to the story, and the first two are brief. "Trust No One: Can The X-Files Remain a Secret" (86 minutes) is a very detailed documentary about the making of the film. It contains comments from the cast and filmmakers. The first topic is the challenge of returning to the world of The X-Files. From there, the piece looks at the cast & characters, the secrecy around the script, opening up the story to non-fans, and the look of the film. We see the principals at Wonder-Con and how the crowd reacted to them. Following the examination of the production, the piece then looks at the post-production process, including the visual effects, editing, sound effects, and music. This featurette contains a lot of on-set footage and comments from people, but ultimately, very little information. "Chris Carter: Statements on Green Production" (6 minute) has the director talking about the environmentally friendly production. In "Body Parts: Special Makeup Effects" (8 minutes), Bill Terezahis shows us the elaborate cadavers and bodies made for the finale. The Disc contains a 10 minute GAG REEL, and the MUSIC VIDEO for "Dying 2 Live" by Xzibit (which is comprised of stills from the movie). "The X-Files Complete Timeline" gives an overview of every episode from the show. We get four STILL GALLERIES, "Collectibles", "Concept Art", "Storyboards", and "Unit Photography". There are two THEATRICAL TRAILERS for the movie. "Agent Dakota Whitney's Files" is an interactive piece which five characters from the series.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long