The X Files Series
The X Files (August 1/08)
There's little doubt that The X Files has been designed to appeal primarily to hardcore fans of the now-defunct TV series, although - to the credit of screenwriter Chris Carter - the film has been opened up in such a way as even the most clueless neophyte should be able to follow along comfortably. The expansive storyline follows FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they attempt to uncover a massive conspiracy involving an impending alien invasion, with their efforts bringing them into contact with a selection of fresh faces (Martin Landau's Alvin Kurtzweil, Blythe Danner's Jana Cassidy) and series regulars (William B. Davis' Cigarette Smoking Man, Mitch Pileggi's Walter Skinner). Director Rob Bowman certainly does an effective job of ensuring that The X Files never feels like just another episode of the show, as the filmmaker - armed with Carter's almost epic script - has infused the proceedings with a decidedly cinematic sensibility that's inherent in even the most innocuous of sequences. It's consequently worth noting that the film's action set-pieces generally come off surprisingly well, though the special-effects heavy climax isn't quite as thrilling as one might've hoped. Still, the compelling-as-ever chemistry between Mulder and Scully ultimately proves instrumental in smoothing over the movie's sporadic flaws - as it's in their one-on-one interludes that The X Files easily lives up to the standard set by its small-screen predecessor's superb early seasons.
The X Files: I Want to Believe (January 25/16)
A disappointing and often tedious entry in the X Files saga, The X Files: I Want to Believe follows David Duchovny's Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully as they team up once again to solve the mystery of a missing FBI agent. There's little doubt that The X Files: I Want to Believe fares best in its initial stretch, as the movie boasts an impressively tense and exciting opening that gives way to an engaging first act - with the film's watchable atmosphere perpetuated (and heightened) by Chris Carter's sporadically lush directorial choices and by Duchovny and Anderson's predictably stellar work. From there, however, The X Files: I Want to Believe segues into a midsection revolving almost entirely around the aforementioned investigation - which would be fine, certainly, if the case itself weren't so thunderously tedious and uninvolving. (The lack of an interesting, compelling bad guy is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of this storyline's weak aspects.) It doesn't help, either, that scripters Carter and Frank Spotnitz have augmented the proceedings with a Scully-based subplot that's both dull and needless, and it's impossible not to scratch one's head at the decision to keep Mulder and Scully separated for the bulk of the movie's overlong running time. (It's perhaps not surprising to note that the film's most engrossing moments involve the former partners' sporadic one-on-one interactions.) The X Files: I Want to Believe is, in the end, likely to appeal to only the most ardent of fans, with the case-of-the-week atmosphere preventing the film from achieving the cinematic heights of its predecessor (ie this essentially feels like an extended episode of the series).