X-Files New Movie DVD

Monday, 17 November 2008 18:30

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” was in cinemas this summer, but was not well-received by critics. Yes, there were numerous TV spots and trailers shown, but the cinema chains, having taken a lead from the critics, gave it a limited release; just one screening a day, for one week only, at my local multiplex. I saw it on the last night and there were just three of us sitting there.

The “fans” hadn’t turned up and, as for the great British public, they couldn’t possibly enjoy it! So, were the critics wrong, and were we all right about not wanting to believe it was worth seeing?

X-Files - I Want To BelieveThe X Files: Cult, Classic or Fad? That was one of the discussions we had late night at the Cult TV Weekender in October 2007. Has it stood the test of time and does it demand repeated viewing? Is it regarded as classic TV or was it just a passing fad, where it was enjoyed when it was on, but now the viewing audience has moved on? More importantly, were the critics right about the fans staying away, and was it something they were right to miss?

Yes and no are the respective answers. 20th Century Fox are releasing it on DVD on 24 November and they have put together a great DVD package, so a chance to catch up with what most of us missed.

“I Want to believe” doesn’t have epic scale of the 1998 first big screen movie “Fight the Future”. No spaceships launching from below the snow and ice here, but we do get snow – lots of it. This time the ‘epic’ shot is at the start of the movie, as a line of FBI agents with sticks prodding the snow and helicopter overhead, searching for evidence (or a body) of one of their own, now missing for 72 hours. Ahead of them is Joseph Fitzpatrick Crissman (Billy Connolly), a psychic, ex-Catholic priest, a convicted paedophile who “buggered 37 altar boys.” As the scene plays out we have flashbacks inserted of the same missing female FBI agent arriving at a house with barking dogs. ‘Father Joe’, as he is referred to throughout the film, stomps ahead shouting “It’s here, it’s here!” and starts clawing at the snow. A severed arm is dug up.

Time has moved on for Mulder and Scully, and for us, as this movie is six years after the end of the series in 2002. Agent Mosley Drummy played by ex-rapper ‘Xzibit’ tracks down Scully to a hospital she’s now working at, asking where Mulder may be found. She replies “I don’t work with Fox Mulder any longer; I don’t work with the FBI.” She is pre-occupied with a young patient, Christian Fearon, who has an incurable brain disease (played by a young wheel-chair bound actor Marco Nicolli in his first role). Scully does know Mulder’s whereabouts and drives to where he lives, an isolated house, where on first seeing him you’d think he was living a hermit-like existence. She explains that the FBI has forgiven him, with Mulder stating that it should be the other way around for putting him “on trial on bogus charges and discrediting a decade of work.” He does agree to go with her and is helicoptered away along with Scully.

They meet Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) who knows of Mulder’s work on the X-Files and believes Mulder is the best chance to find the missing agent (Monica Bannan). Father Joe had cold-called six hours after she went missing, claiming a vision, a psychic connection and that she is alive. He has no connection with Monica, and Agent Whitney needs Mulder’s help in making sure that Father Joe isn’t wasting the FBI’s time.

In many ways this doesn’t play out like a traditional X-Files story. Scully, having got Mulder involved, wants to return to her work and her young patient – she’s “done with chasing monsters in the dark.” Is this really a case that needs an agent with Mulder’s abilities – it can’t be the first time the FBI have heard from a psychic, can it? Mulder’s compulsion in continuing is he can see similarities with his search for his dead sister (that the TV series concentrated on for so long).

Unusually for an X-Files story it is us, the viewers, who are ahead of Mulder and Scully in knowing what is happening. Also, despite their obvious attraction to each other, their characters could never live with each other, but what we get here is a domestication of Mulder and Scully that we’ve not seen before. The story is nothing special in places, but the reason for Monica’s disappearance and that of others hails back to an idea first seen on screen in the earliest of the horror film genre. What is worthy of praise is the quality of the images on screen – it is creatively shot, and with many of the scenes set at night, the quality of the lighting with just the right amount of illumination and from the correct angle, makes it very striking to view.

It’s a story you won’t give up on, as you’ll want to know how it resolves itself. “Don’t give up” is a phrase you’ll hear a lot during the film. Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi, a guest at Cult TV 1995) makes a late entrance, making him the only other series regular to appear in the film. We also get a longer cut than the cinema version, running 103 minutes.

I viewed the double DVD set. There is a single DVD set that will allow you to listen to co-writers Chris Carter (also producer, director and series creator) and Frank Spotnitz’s commentary, which is as informative as you would expect also including three deleted / extended scenes, and a Blu-ray version with more extras than I detail below.

Three substantial extras are entitled: “Trust no one – can the X-Files remain a secret?”, “Misinformation”, and “Don’t give up” - each running just under half an hour.

We also have:

Chris Carter talking about making film production greener for six minutes;

An eight minute feature on SFX make up and body parts;

A ten minute-long gag-reel;

Copious photo-galleries covering X-Files collectibles, concept art, unit photography and story boards;

Two trailers, and

A music track “Dying to Live” by ‘Xzibit’

As confirmed during the commentary and in the first of the extras listed above, “I Want to Believe” was shot in Vancouver where The X Files was shot for the first five years, and where Chris Carter’s Millennium, The Lone Gunmen and Harsh Realm were shot. The filming was rather incestuous, as Carter invited back every one who had worked on those shows and as many as possible who worked on The X Files in L.A.

Many of the extras had an earlier production role. Those unable to make it are immortalised another way. There is a line of post-boxes where Scully and Skinner stop en-route. Perhaps the Blu Ray version allows you to read Morgan and Wong? – just two of the writing staff names we are advised that are honoured with their names on them.

Director of many an X-Files episode, David Nutter is immortalised as ‘Nutter’s Feed’, a convenience store and gas station. Some of Carter’s old friends from Vancouver appear, one as a swimming pool receptionist, along with his second cousin by marriage, his accountant, and his attorney! The actress (now grown up), who played a young version of Mulder’s sister from the series, even gets a cameo role walking down a corridor. One can’t but help think perhaps as much effort should have gone into lifting the script above the 6/10 that I have to give the film overall.

“Trust no one – can the X-Files remain a secret?” contains many talking heads including Duchovny, Anderson, Carter, Spotnitz, Connolly and many other cast and crew, and shows many scenes being shot - giving a good insight into the film production process. We learn that Chris Carter wrote the role of Father Joe the psychic, ex-Catholic priest and convicted paedophile who “buggered 37 altar boys” with Billy Connolly in mind! Paramount in the production process was secrecy about the script, virtually trusting no one with it longer than it took them to read it!

“Misinformation” expands the secrecy line further, including the releasing of fake information. It also includes coverage from this year’s San Diego Comic Con where Duchovny, Anderson, Carter and Spotnitz all appeared in front of a few thousand enthusiastic fans (the only ones left?).

“Don’t give up” covers the post-production process, including editing and music composition (also worthy of praise).

Overall I’ll give the double DVD extras 8/10.

Finally, onto the end credits. They honour the passing of Randy Stone who died in February 2007. As casting director on The X Files he was responsible for giving David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson their big breaks.

We get to hear the new ‘Unkle’ remix of The X Files theme and, in a departure from the cinema version, many of Chris Carter’s own onset photos flashing up as the credits role. Keep watching as they pass by, as just before the end we get an Easter egg scene featuring Mulder and Scully.

“The X Files: I want to Believe” is released on 24th November as a two disc set priced £22.99, or as a single disc at £19.99. A Blu Ray version is also available at £28.99 - as usual you can get all these versions much cheaper at www.culttvstore.com

If you would like to comment on this review or any other editorials on the Cult TV website please join our forum if you’ve not done so and post away here: www.culttv.info/viewforum.php?f=57

Thanks to Cult TV and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, you could have had the opportunity to add one of TEN copies of the DOUBLE-DVD set into your collection, in our prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Which actor, who appeared at the Cult TV Festival in 1995, has a role in the new X-Files movie? The answer was Mitch Pileggi, and the winners were Roman Krause of Rugby, Karen Cripps of Reading, Colin Hutson of Colchester, Mark Prior of Chatteris, Naeem Malik of Ilford, Ian Cullen of Sale, Alberto Pantrini of Birmingham, Ruth Beckett of Norwich, Mandy Osborne of Reading, and Richard Farley of Sutton Coldfield.  Congratulations all!

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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