Friday, December 26, 2008

X-Files: I Want to Believe, OR, When Will This High-School Reunion Ever End?

The title even sounds a little like that song they'll play at 11pm when two people with an unrequited flame are making out in the corner and they're trying to encourage everyone else to go home.

I suppose if the biggest thing you X-File fans had wanted to see in the series was Scully and Mulder get married, make out, and act as wishy-washy about their potential separation as they did about the possibilities of aliens, then this could be the movie for you.

Then again, you could also be a big fan of movies about transplanting people's heads onto other people's bodies. Then you'll be completely fascinated by the B-horror-movie plot.

Ooops, did I give too much away? Let's just say, the medical premise here is about as plausible as the "Spock's Brain" episode of Star Trek. You know the one I mean - where the beautifully brainy alien commandeers Spock's brain from his body and hooks it up to their HVAC system to have it run their vast underground city of Amazons. At least in that episode, though, you had masterful memorial dialogue like, "brain, brain, what is brain? It is controller, is it not?" This movie only gives you more Sculdury insights like "why, why did you say that to me? I don't know why I said that."

On the one hand, I kind of appreciate Chris Carter deciding to give us more of a traditional mass-murderer story (a la the Hannibal movies) rather than yet one more encounter with coy aliens. We do pretty much go along with the premise as various people are kidnapped, mutilated, and otherwise treated like lab animals in PETA's worst nightmares. And the creepy pedophile Priest struck with visions of truth is kind of nice.

And, I agree, there is kind of a Nineteen-Nineties nostalgia in seeing Scully and Mulder give the whole FBI thing one last college try. They have a world-weariness about the whole thing, much as do those X-Files fans who've since moved on to more engrossing fare such as the supremely marvelous Battlestar Galactica. Both Scully and Mulder and Chris Carter have been replaced by younger, more muscular agents with their own agendas and fan bases. As a blast-from-the-past idea, the setup seems promising.

But it's clear from this movie that the time off has not been kind to Carter's story-telling abilities. To call this movie rusty would be a kind understatement, as well as an accurate description of the surgery tools being employed by the evil Russian bad guys. About half-way through, Carter's goes off the rails, like he doesn't know anymore how to tie together the bloody dots on his snowscapes. How about creating some back-channel connection between Scully's cuddly young patient and the nefarious horror-show villains? That nice potential way to create some resonance seemed obvious and well, ignored. And, prey tell, why do the villains have to be suffering from classic b-movie-villain homosexuality? Has Carter been reading too much of "The Purpose Driven Life"?

Rank this movie down there with possibly some of the most unwatchable episodes from the series - you know the ones, the "filler" episodes that borrowed some stale idea like vampires and didn't explore one-tenth the potential that a show like "True Blood" does. I always liked the alien-conspiracy episodes the best. And I felt the last movie, while setting out that conspiracy entertainingly, still left more questions about the series than it answered.

It seems that this movie decided to answer no more questions. Except one: will there ever be another X-Files movie. After this disaster, that answer seems to be clear.

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