It's 10 years since the first X-Files movie, and six years since the end of the TV series. The X-Files was probably the hottest TV show of the 1990s, but its popularity waned towards the end of its run — particularly in the awful eighth and ninth seasons. So, after all this time, is there really a need for more X-Files?
I'm sure that the hard-core fans will be screaming "yes" to that question; others may waver a bit. I was wavering a little, until I saw The X-Files: I Want to Believe. As someone who gave up on the series two seasons before it finished (and who still hasn't seen the two-part finale) I walked out feeling that it had reclaimed some of its former glory. It's billed as a "stand-alone" story, minus the long-running "mythology" of aliens among us that was the staple of the series. And as such, it works pretty well. It's tough to discuss the film's plot without giving too much away, but I'll do my best. Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) no longer work for the FBI. She's gone back to medicine, and is surgeon working at a Catholic hospital. A bearded Mulder has become a recluse, wanted by the US government (which, I'd have to guess, harks back to the show's finale). Whern an FBI agent goes missing, presumed kidnapped, Mulder and Scully are called on for help. Also helping out is a psychic paedophile priest, Father Joe (Connolly), who has a knack for finding buried body parts in the snow and bleeding from his eyes.
That's all I'll say about the plot. From an on-and-off fan of the show, it was great to see the characters back on screen, and Duchovny and Anderson seemed to slip back into character quite easily, even recapturing that old chemistry (and taking it a little further). Connolly, though, it a true revelation in possibly the best dramatic role of his career so far. The laconic, lovable Scottish comedian is almost unregnisable as the fallen priest, who wants to believe that God will forgive his for his sins — and that his visions are a way for that to happen. Actually, the film's title pretty much applies to everyone — Mulder still wants to believe in the paranormal (his ever-present poster puts in an appearance) while Scully wants to believe that she can save her young patient at the hospital. Overall, the film comes across as one of the better two-parters from the series. And for a big-screen thriller, it's remarkably low key — there are no explosions, no running gun battles, no overblown fight scenes and no flashy CGI. The plot unfolds slowly, until the final shocking reveal. It's not overly complicated, but not as strong as some of the show's classic "monster of the week" episodes. It does, though, manage to recapture some of the old creepiness. A lot of the long-time fans may be a little disappointed with the film, but most audiences should find it a decent enough watch.
EXTRAS **** With the special 2-disc Director's Cut edition, there is a third disc that has a digital copy of the film, for a computer or portable video device. Sweet. On disc one, the extras are an audio commentary with Carter and Spotnitz, and three deleted scenes. On disc two you get a censored gag reel (actors and phones are not a good mix), three featurettes (Trust No One; Statements on Green Production; Body Parts), an Xzibit music video, a stills gallery and trailers.