Thursday, July 31, 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe, or as we'll more accurately call it from here on out, The Boring-Files: I Want to Borelieve, failed to capture my attention unlike any film I've seen all year, and I saw The Happening. I went in hoping to see an exciting fight for the future, but instead found myself fighting to stay awake. I'm sure everyone involved with it meant well, but let's just put it this way: I watch the credits to movies 90% of the time. I enjoy them; I consider it part of the experience. Sometimes if I'm in a hurry or didn't care for the movie much or have already seen it, I'll leave after the above-the-line people. Here, the second that "Directed by Chris Carter" appeared onscreen, I got up and bolted for the exit. I haven't done that in three or four years.

Like many episodes of the TV show it continues from, the plot involves a life-or-death mystery with a bit of a science-fiction / paranormal gloss to it, but it's all just presented so goddamn sedately. Nothing about the execution in terms of cinematography, acting, narrative scale, special effects, or anything ever rises above feeling like it belongs on broadcast television or maybe straight-to-DVD. The central murder mystery, in fact, could easily be the plot of a completely typical episode of CSI or Law & Order or basically any other cop drama.

But the biggest problem, by far, is Scully's fuckin' cancer kid. The ads smartly eschewed this in favor of bleeding eyes, but Dana Scully is a doctor now, and she has a patient who is a little boy dying of cancer. All the other doctors think she needs to let go and let the kid die, but she believes she can save him. It's a schmaltzy, even more made-for-TV melodrama that I swear to god got a third of the screentime of the movie. Every few minutes we have to hear what Scully thinks of this kid and see her cry over the kid and bring up the kid and visit the kid and talk to other doctors about the kid and oh god all I wanted was for the kid to die so we could get back to the X-Files mystery. I get that it's supposed to symbolize Scully learning to believe, but this was a poor, poor plot device.

I will admit that I was not a regular viewer of the show back when it was the hottest thing in sci-fi, so the references to the show (if there were any) went over my head and I don't much care about Mulder and Scully's relationship. But I know that I just wasn't engaged, even at the theoretically brisk runtime of 100 minutes. Maybe if you cut out the most boring 48 minutes you could have an average-quality 42-minute episode of The X-Files, but that's the warmest compliment I can give it.

1 Star out of 5

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