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The Truth Is Out There...But Chris Carter Couldn't Find It Without a Map

August 2nd, 2008 (06:10 pm)

current mood: chipper

I just saw the new X-Files movie, The X-Files: I Want To Believe. I know the reviews have been lukewarm, but while it was by no means a great film, I liked it. It was fun visiting with my old friends Mulder and Scully, and I was happy to see Assistant Director Skinner show up for a scene near the end.

I'll avoid giving away too much here, in case you haven't seen it. The plot has nothing to do with byzantine alien conspiracies. It's a stand-alone storyline about a missing FBI agent and Russian scientists performing transplants (without the donors' permission) of organs and other body parts. Mulder and Scully have left the FBI and are living together, to the delight of those of us who applauded their next-level relationship at the end of the series. Don't worry, they didn't turn it into a soap opera. the movie doesn't dwell on the relationship; it's just there as a given, and both actors make it look natural and solid, though you'd think it would be hard to appear natural when you're in bed together but still calling each other by last names! Gillian Anderson gives a particularly strong, nuanced performance.

There was also a shot that warmed my anti-Republican heart. We're at FBI headquarters. As the camera pans over the obligatory photo of George W. Bush on the wall, those creepy X-Files theme song notes ring out, for reasons entirely unrelated to the plot. The message is clear: George Bush is an alien. Or at least, his presidency is surreal.

But some things never change: X-Files creator Chris Carter still needs a remedial geography class. The guy was always clueless when it came to the Eastern half of the United States. Remember all those scenes in the old series when you yelled at the TV screen: "Hello! There are no mountains in Washington, D.C.!" Or "Scully can't wake up in her D.C. apartment and pick up Mulder an hour later in Providence, Rhode Island!" or "Annapolis, Maryland, is not on the Washington Metro system, morons! It's a separate city."

In this new movie, it becomes increasingly clear that the writers believe West Virginia still to be a part of Virginia, not having gotten the memo that it became a separate state in, oh, 1863. The crimes takes place in West Virginia, but when the agents call in the District Attorney, it's the D.A. in Richmond. And apparently all the cars in West Virginia sport Virginia license plates.

I also felt that several plot elements mentioned only briefly could have been further developed into some really interesting, controversial subplots. That would have made the movie longer (it was only about 100 minutes, so the writers did have some wiggle room) but it would have added some larger themes and much-needed texture. I won't elaborate on specifics because I don't want to give away too much.

IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE: If you go see this movie, you absolutely MUST stay in your seat until the very end of the credits. I was the only person in the theatre who was still there at the end, and everyone else missed a nice payoff in the last few seconds.


Posted by: Tim W. Burke (timwb)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)

I felt it was a good Season Five episode.
It was good seeing that Duchovny and Anderson both had grown as actors. Gillian specifically was reaaly good.
But there were weird little throwaways, like why have the two villains be gay and married in Massachusettes?
I agree with everything about their knowledge of the east coast.
For me, the Bush thing was a distracting cheap shot. And I voted Dem.
Anyway, a good time.

Posted by: petrini1 (petrini1)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)

Yes, the part about the villains being married to each other made me wonder if there had been a planned subplot about it that got cut in the final version. Seemed like an extraneous detail to throw in if they weren't planning to do anything with it.... So, did you stay all through the credits?

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