X-Files: I Want To Believe (Rated PG-13)

    Chris Carter made a bad choice. I Want to Believe (100 minutes) might have worked as a one-hour episode in the middle of a season. It does not work as a stand alone feature-length film released the weekend after Dark Knight. It is truly painful only because all the elements of the beloved series are present…. Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) hardcore skepticism mixed in with her strong religious faith, Mulder’s (David Duchovny) brilliant intuitive leaps combined with an openness to extra-normal explanations, the creepy camera work and spot on musical cues are just as they should be. The chemistry between the two leads is marvelous to behold, and rediscovering the characters is worth watching the film. Worth watching, that is, until the last 20 minutes or so, when the passable up until that point plot disintegrates into the kind of absurdity normally reserved for low budget B-movies.
    {mosimage}Six years after Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) left the FBI, she is working at a Catholic hospital and he clips newspaper stories about strange events. While wrestling with the moral issues inherent to treating a terminally ill child with an unproved and painful remedy, Scully is contacted by an FBI agent who wants Mulder’s assistance on an abduction case involving Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), a psychic with an unexplained connection to the case. At first, Mulder is reluctant to work with Agent Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Agent Drummy (Xzibit), but he soon becomes obsessed with the mystery and is drawn deeper and deeper into the case while Scully tries to distance herself from the violent case and focus on her medical career. As tempting as it is to offer more plot detail, if only to mock the disappointing finale, there is a substantial amount of suspense generated from the film’s early promise. If you are able to refrain from leaving the theater in disgust as soon as the credits role, than there is a post-credit scene to look forward to (which I missed).
    There are some nice secondary roles, including Battlestar Galactica’s Callum Keith Rennie and, reprising his role as Walter Skinner, Mitch Pileggi.
    References to the original series are sprinkled throughout the film, including a reference to William, Mulder and Scully’s little boy, pencils in the ceiling, and a heaping dish of sunflower seeds. Some of the less successful elements of the series are left out (i.e. alien conspiracy and Agent Moronica); even so, Scully manages to name check Mulder’s long lost sister early in the film.
    The characters have aged, no doubt about it. Mulder seems a shadow of his former self, and bits of his Californication persona show through the seams. Luckily, he is still hot, as is Gillian Anderson, who, impossible as it seems, has actually grown even more attractive since the series end.
    I Want to Believe is not an example of bad film, and in fact, it almost works despite the somewhat ridiculous premise. However, perhaps because it is based on a series with a strong mythology and truly memorable characters, it is a film that fails to distinguish itself.

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