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January 23, 2023

The X-Files 2: I Just Want To Leave

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Bernie said:

You probably think that the life of a movie reviewer is all fun and flash -- parties, starlets, your people meeting my people, etc.. Well, it's nothing like that. Movie reviewing is like doing reconnaissance for the military. It's a dangerous job. Before the troops move in, the recon team is sent to gather intelligence. There are lots of unknowns and uncertainties. Maybe you walk into an area with food, water and a dry place to sleep; maybe you walk into a snake pit or an ambush. You do the job because someone has to, and you do it because you know that you may very well save somebody's life. I know that if I do my job well, I just may save one of you from having to see The X-Fouls: I Wanted to Leave.

I was a big fan of the television show. I thought Chris Carter did an excellent job of teasing us with all those lurid subjects that we love to talk about when we're sitting around the campfire and we want to make sure nobody sleeps easy. Agent Mulder and Scully were young, attractive, intelligent and witty. There were ghosts, aliens, government conspiracies. And there was Gillian Anderson who, I must admit, was pretty easy to look at.

The good news is that Gillian Anderson is still pretty darn good to look at. She was 24 when the show first aired on television, and now she is only a few months shy of 40 and the mother of two. I was never much interested in looking at David Duchovny, but I guess he's aged pretty gracefully also. What didn't age well at all was Chris Carter's vision of The X-Files. This story is overly long, boring and unsuspenseful. Where the original series created a wonderful tension between Mulder's belief in the supernatural and Scully's skepticism based in science, in the movie this debate is reduced to an endless "is... isn't... is... isn't" argument. There are no chupacabras, no aliens, no spaceships, crop circles, bizarre physical manifestations of obscure diseases, inexplicable natural phenomena, nor a single government conspiracy. In short, there was no X-Files meat and potatoes.

What there was was lots of snow, and for someone like me who moved across the continent to get away from the snow, it was chilling. There was lots and lots of snow, and threats of more snow. It was eerie how much snow there was. And that was odd in itself since snow was of no particular importance to the story.

The movie also lacked "the look" of The X-Files. As I recall, one of the stunning aspects of the show was the strong use of light to create mood and mystery. This movie had more of the feel of a daytime soap opera with cheap sound stage sets. Except for the snow -- that was topnotch snow.

And the acting? Gillian Anderson is a fine actress, and she did all she could with a poorly written script, but even she could not drag the rest of the cast up. Everybody else in the movie seemed like they didn't want to be there and couldn't figure out what their character was supposed to do.

No acting, no writing, no direction, no clue. The reviewer took one for the team this time, boys. Don't let my sacrifice be in vain...go see something else at the movies and let The X-Files be a pleasant memory from the past.

Sand said:

When the X-Files was on TV, at first I wouldn't watch it because I didn't want nightmares; then I wouldn't miss it because it was a great series, and at the end, I watched it for Robert Patrick's character, John Doggett, even though the writing had taken a turn for the worse. Bernie assures me that we saw the movie The X-Files, though we had to have waited to see that on DVD as I was working weekends at the time. I don't remember it. The trailer doesn't even ring a bell. Maybe it was crummy, and my brain just has no long-term retention for things I don't particularly like.

Which means that I probably won't remember The X Files: I Want To Believe by next Wednesday night. In fact, in part, I'm writing this review so that if someone rents the DVD in the future, I can look back and remind myself to go clean the barn paddock instead of watching it.

Trying not to include spoilers, we have ex-FBI agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder sort of reluctantly teaming up again to probe a serial killing. A pedophile ex-priest is having visions that might lead to the breaking of the case, but the FBI doesn't believe him. Well, they sort of do, and so they call in the only ex-agent in the world who might sort of more believe him, which would be Mulder. Then they pretty much don't believe the ex-priest, but then they sort of do, again, but then they don't, and then they do, but really, the FBI might say, "It's only 'sort of', after all, so don't hold us accountable."

Scully, in the mean time, is working in an obviously Catholic hospital, an obviously hostile-appearing Catholic hospital (and God knows, taking a whack at Catholics ought to improve the audience ratings nowadays), having become a neurosurgeon since the last movie. A neurosurgeon who's a bit of a know it all. Still, the lofty position doesn't preclude her from 'Googling' "stem cell research" in order to find a potential cure for one of her patients. Woo.

Oh, whoops. Saying that makes the writing sound stupid. "At least," Bernie mentioned to me on the way home, "she wasn't using Wikipedia."

All right, fine. Movie reviews of Journey to the Center of the Earth mostly say that the plot was dumb, but the 3-D was charming, and they did supply the 3-D glasses. The X-Files: I Want To Believe makes Journey look like rocket science, and the producers should have provided barf bags.

Seriously. Hypodermic needles and unnecessary surgeries creep me out. I regretted my popcorn, and the lunch I'd had, and the breakfast I'd had. More than once I had to just shut my eyes and wait for the scene to change. But that's just me, I know. I'm a wuss. A serial killer who casually totes around bloody body parts (sometimes for no apparent reason) grosses me out. A team of accomplished surgeons who knit up random body parts (for a flimsily apparent reason) made me think that stacking the wood that just arrived this past week in the afternoon heat would have been a whole lot more appealing than this film.

I'm trying to keep this brief. Really. So allow me to state some points without too much unnecessary exposition.

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully does a good job, although the longer hair does her no service, and dropping her lower jaw to make her face look more svelt is only good if you don't know she's doing it.

David Duchovny still looks stupid, and has not learned that puckering his lips when he eats sunflower seeds makes him look stupider yet.

Their love affair seems to be based on "I love you for being the way you are, but I can't stand to be around you for the way you are." And what the hell, were they living together and still calling each other by last names or did they get together for a conciliatory (semi-conciliatory) fling?

This movie should receive a major award for the Stupidest Plot of the Entire Past Five Years, or at least be nominated for it.

Save your money and see it on DVD, after the DVD goes to the bargain bin.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-07-28
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