The X-Files: I Want to Believe (movie) Review
The X-Files: I Want to Believe really is just a film length episode of the TV series. In fact, its so low key an episode, I’m stunned this is the story they decided to use for a feature film.
You can divide X-Files episodes into two kinds of stories: aliens and monsters. The monster stories can further be divided into actual monsters, demons and things going on in the night and more “normal” procedurals with a physic element and some legitimate doubt whether or not something supernatural is happening.
I Want to Believe falls into that last category. Oh sure, you’ve got a pedophilic priest, stem cell research, gay marriage and a bit of dodgy science floating around in the background, but the brunt of the plot is about hunting a serial killer and trying to decide if the psychic involved is really a psychic or just in on the killings.
You have a couple chase scenes, Scully struggles with her faith, Mulder and Scully make out. It’s your standard X-Files procedural psychic mystery. Oh, things are a hair more interesting in the background at the end of the film as they get to the bottom of things, but what could have justified a film budget for special effects gets treated in such a very matter-of-fact (“oh, look, there’s XXXXXX”) fashion that it’s anti-climactic if you were expecting big splashy things on screen.
That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its good points. I actually didn’t recognize Billy Connolly as the physic de-frocked priest with a past that involved altar boys. He does a good job of projecting genuineness in sea of doubt, important when the whole point is to keep his status in question. Amanda Peet works well enough as the borderline starry-eyed FBI agent offering Mulder amnesty if he’ll help her work the psychic angle of a kidnapped agent. Duchovny and Anderson are just exactly like they were in the TV show.
Basically, if you’re an X-Files fan, you should know what kind of an episode I’m talking about. If you like that particular style of episode, you’ll like this. If you didn’t, you probably won’t. (I preferred the actual monster episodes, especially the Kolchak-influenced silly ones, so I thought this was alright, but pedestrian.)
I Want to Believe would fit right at home, late night on TNT when they show reruns. Except for Mulder cooperating with the FBI, instead of actually being an agent, you wouldn’t know the difference. There’s nothing “big” here to make you notice you’re in the theater. They could have played up the dodgy science, had some monsters and used some modern special effects. They could have played with some obvious satirical elements that were left under-stated (though that might turn up on the DVD). They played it straight, dramatic and low key.
The biggest question for X-Files fans is whether this movie is enough to justify paying a for a full-price movie ticket, and that’s something you’ll have to answer for yourself.