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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

X-Files: I Want To Believe

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Jacqueline Monahan

X-Files: I Want To Believe

Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Dana Scully and Fox Mulder are at it again, spooky theme song and all. This time the pair are called in by the FBI to investigate the disappearance of an agent after a psychic pedophile priest finds a severed arm buried in a frozen West Virginia field. Another disappearance of a local woman with the same rare blood type (AB negative) points to a perpetrator with a medical motive.

Although they cohabitate, our two intrepid investigators have gone their separate professional ways (Scully is a pediatric surgeon at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital, Mulder is a bearded recluse, clipping articles on paranormal phenomena in his home office). The team decides to reunite one more time, for different, obsession-based reasons.

Heading up the investigative team on the case are Agents Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Drummy (rapper Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner) who are stellar at getting in each other’s way. Whitney is the believer here, Drummy, the tiresome drone who just doesn’t get it and never will, perpetually pissed and preventing any real progress. Even Scully and Mulder fall into their old familiar personae: she’s the skeptic, he’s the wiseguy. The best bet all of these experts have is the questionable psychic ability of disgraced priest Father Joe (Billy Connolly) who doesn’t really know what his visions mean; only that he once molested dozens of altar boys and would probably do it again if given the chance.

The plot involves animal tranquilizer, severed body parts, vicious dogs and lots of snow. West Virginia is portrayed as more or less of an Arctic tundra. There’s also a Scully subplot involving risky stem cell surgery on an inoperable patient to the chagrin of the Catholic-run hospital administration. Scully does not now and apparently never has understood the phrase “lighten up.” Her incessant gravitas is palpable and sometimes laughable. The haunted eyes and whispered warnings would probably follow her into a restaurant while ordering lunch.

The pair’s complex relationship unfolds in solemn glances and obvious dialogue that elicits periodic groans. Finding Mulder shivering in a barn during a snowstorm, Scully utters the profound words, “You’re cold.” That’s why she’s the M.D.

Snow is an appropriate metaphor for the resurgence of a type of cold war going on here, as the bad guys have an accent you’ll recognize. Their grotesque activities are not so farfetched as to require an X File caliber team and there’s not an extraterrestrial to be found on any horizon.

Die hard fans will flock to this latest iteration of the beloved series like the Holy Grail, after a long post-show hiatus (six years). Curiosity will fuel an initial interest, but will not be able to sustain it.

Director/Writer and series creator Chris Carter (who co-wrote with Frank Spotnitz (Night Stalker, Millennium) delivers a mediocre true crime melodrama that has little to do with the premise of the original series. The best that can be said for it is that it’s a stand-alone plot that does not require intimate knowledge of the long-running show. On the other hand, that’s not necessarily a good selling point for a cult show with a loyal following and the expectations that come with it.

Gillian Anderson knows her way around medical terminology and long, serious gazes. David Duchovny can be counted on for wry observations and low-key reactions. Connolly does his best with a thankless role. Amanda Peet is wasted and Alvin Joiner is so one-note it becomes annoying. FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) makes an appearance much too late in the film to be anything other than a plot contrivance and much needed reinforcement for Scully and Mulder.

Composer Mark Snow's recognizable score is reliable. One of the best moments in the film occurs when a few bars of the theme song play during a shot of the President’s portrait hanging in FBI headquarters.

Unfortunately, the much-anticipated film is not even as good as some of the series’ more compelling episodes and lacks the sophistication and drama required to rise to a theatrical level. The X Files: I Want to Believe would perhaps be more appropriately titled after the Stones’ classic You Can’t Always Get What You Want. You certainly won’t here especially if what you want is imaginative filmmaking.

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