I WANT TO BELIEVE
and further musings by Alexios Gatzoyas
begin with, as the tag line of this website says, Just One Opinion on the
Movies, the following should be read as such; an opinion from a fan of The
X Files who just watched the second X Files film.
at this point a brief background on my personal experience of The X Files
would facilitate to contextualise the following review of the aforementioned
film. Arguably it is a well-known fact that the television series The X
Files has been unique and extraordinary not only as a worldwide television
phenomenon during the 1990's, but as a series in itself, setting new cinematic
standards of filming for television. Numerous Film Studies and other academics
have written a plethora of essays, articles and case studies discoursing
how The X Files has influenced many televisions series that ensued, and
even, as many argue, how it helped to shape the landscape of the post-90's
US television production values and type of television storytelling, as
well as audience expectations. For me The X Files was something that grabbed
my imagination, attention and interest on many levels, all positioned securely
away from the realm of 'The X Philer'.
it to say I was eagerly anticipating the second X Files film, yet consciously
with much reserve, in an attempt to enter the cinema with as much open and
unbiased mindset as possible, with enthusiasm nonetheless.
Overall, I believe that the film could be looked at from two different audience
perspectives; that from an X Files fan; and that from a regular cinema goer
who is not familiar with 'The X Files phenomenon' of the 90's. Regardless,
looking at the vast array of approximately 202 episodes, the 'world' of
The X Files is immensely rich and diverse in terms of the genre, style and
thematic scope of the stories that it has dealt with in the past. The latter
does not take into account the story arc of the 'mythology' that has been
the backdrop for both the original television series and its first cinematic
outing, i.e. the conspiracies by the US government and FBI in an attempt
to hide from the general public the knowledge of the existence of extra
terrestrials and their planned invasion/colonisation of Earth on December
22, 2012. Apropos one could argue that the scope of the script for the second
X Files film was a blank canvas on which an imaginative, intriguing, original,
unique and jaw dropping story could be drawn. Alas this was not the case
X Files: I Want to Believe was written by Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter;
the first was one of the co-executive producers/producers of the television
series; the latter was the executive producer and creator. For those who
have followed the television series would remember that some of the most
memorable two-hour and three-hour long story arcs were penned by Chris Carter.
By common acknowledgement from the creative team behind the series, Chris
Carter's role has been paramount to the creation, development and sustainability
of the series' unique aesthetic, structural and diagetic footprint; elements
that have earned the series numerous awards, yet more importantly, its unique
distinctiveness, kudos and prestige for audiences around the world.
one cannot help but wonder where such characteristics can be found within
the film, if at all. The story, although positioned well within the realm
of The X Files world, it is far from unique; a subject matter that has been
dealt with, in one form or another, in numerous occasions by a plethora
of other television series and films. One could argue that regardless, the
story still had potential, should it have been treated in collaboration
with key members of the television series' creative and directorial team
such as Rob Bowman and Kim Manners to name but a few. Regrettably these
names were nowhere to be found on the film's end credits. The narrative
is fragmented, with many plot development points being perturbed by continuous
inserts of exposition by the film's two protagonists.
is believed that this exposition was designed to satisfy the requirements
of the two different types of audiences watching this film. The television
series finished in 2002, where the characters of Mulder and Scully were
left out of work from the FBI, with the X Files, as an FBI department, being
shut down. The fans finally see their duo of heroes together as a couple,
yet facing an unknown future. The first film established solidly who these
two characters are as well as the aforementioned 'mythology'. Six years
have passed since the series' finale, and ten years since the last film,
ergo the need to update the audience on what our characters have been up
to in the meantime, was an avoidable and necessary ingredient of this film's
script. This also included exposition for the benefit of the non-fans, who
had to become aware of the background of these two characters; such as William,
the child of Mulder and Scully; the sacrifices that these two had to make
during their work on the X Files with the FBI and much more.
the writer here feels that this was approached in a much linear and basic
style and manner, without the use of any of The X Files distinctive storytelling
devices nor its unique codes and conventions; more importantly by underestimating
the audience's intelligence, in terms of how this exposition was integrated
within the film. At the same time, Chris Carter is known for his exposition-heavy,
'wordy' scripts; one only has to watch again the series' two-hour finale
to understand this, where for approximately 60minutes the 'action' is situated
within the confines of a court room dialogue. In the past, scripts such
as these have been successfully put on the screen by the skilful hands and
direction of the likes of Rob Bowman and Kim Manners. In this instance the
film has been directed by Chris Carter instead, whose directorial attempts
are generally very limited and primarily found within The X Files. One only
has to examine more closely episodes directed by Chris Carter to realise
that directing is not one of his strongest points.
bringing us to the actual film, where two very talented actors along with
the remaining acting ensemble entrusted themselves to this particular director.
The results are varied; Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are simply left
to re-prise their roles six years on, with no apparent and adept directorial
attempts to tap into their acting capabilities; hence to bring out stronger
performances, as they have proven in the past that they are capable of doing
most skilfully and effortlessly. This resulted in not bringing out into
the foreground that quintessential 'chemistry' that these two actors are
capable of creating and enriched their two characters with in the past.
Moreover, it could be argued that the direction lacked that special X Files
'cinematic' mise-en-scene and feel, as well as multilayered structure and
construct. The writer at this point purposely acknowledges the oxymoron
here since this is a review is about a film.
the film is enriched with many small details, carefully placed within the
diegetic world of the film, for the fans to read and engage in an additional
reading of the text. Perhaps these function as a reminder to the fans that
they are not forgotten. Hence a fan embarks on an interplay of 'in-house'
references throughout the film, by identifying elements such as the protagonists'
idiosyncrasies and eccentricities; Mark Snow's iconic signature theme music;
or Mulder's poster of a UFO with the caption "I Want to Believe", cleverly
and quietly reinforcing the title of the film as well as the driving force
behind Mulder's motivation for his quests into the paranormal, to name but
interesting element that is present within the film is the signature debate
between Mulder, the believer, and Scully, the sceptic/scientist. This is
a joy for the fans to watch, as it resonates from countless similar conversations
from the television series, which were and still are at the core of the
relationship of our two protagonists.
however, cannot help but wonder whether all of the above and much more were
overshadowed and possibly undermined by the story itself, dealing with some
very real, ephemeral and serious subject matters such as paedophiles, religion
and animal cruelty. Religion, and faith and Christianity more specifically,
has been a part of Scully's character and part of the ways of dealing with,
accepting and understanding the immense personal sacrifices and trials that
her character had to endure over the nine-year run of the series. Nevertheless,
such notions of faith and belief were always explored and dealt with delicately
by juxtaposing these very cleverly and most skilfully with Mulder's own
beliefs; thus at times encouraging the viewer to engage on additional reflections,
and some argued, on a philosophical level too. Yet it could be argued that
this is not the case in this film, as the story appears to embark on what
could possibly be perceived as a religious and social critique and commentary.
This on its own is not problematic; nonetheless one could debate whether
it was appropriate for this film in particular, whose main function was
to re-establish and re-introduce the fictional world of The X Files, its
universe, style and characters, ten years after its first cinematic outing,
to a primarily cinema audience, old and new.
the past few months a lot has been written about the reasons why this second
film has been delayed for such a long period of time; about what the creator's
and cast's intentions are for the X Files franchise to continue with cinema
releases only; about the amount of effort that Chris Carter put into financing
this film; about the story potential that the fictional world of The X Files
has; and much, much more. If any of this information is to be true, as a
viewer first and then as an X Files fan, this has little impact on my personal
perception, reading and anticipation of this film.
At the same time, however, taking into account the cold reality of the global
economics of the Hollywood film-studio industry, one fears that this film
could be the last in the franchise. Should ticket sales are not at the acceptable
levels, then this franchise could no longer be an economically viable media
The X Files hit the world's small screens at the appropriate period of time,
and perhaps, nowadays, well into the first decade of the twenty-first century
where the notions of 'escapism', 'sci-fi drama' and 'reality' within the
Media have been substantially redefined both as genres as well as ideas,
perhaps such media products as The X Files no longer have the same place
in people's entertainment agenda.
perhaps, as it has happened in the past, world-wide cinema ticket and home
video sales; pay-per-view rentals and other similar market revenues, could
be enough to sustain a third film. Then perhaps the creative team behind
this franchise could learn valuable lessons from their mistakes; they could
'listen' to the demands of the new market hence perhaps they could be able
to adjust a very successful formula. . .Perhaps all this is merely a case
of 'hope dying last'.
I, for one, Want To Believe!
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