An expanse of flat, snow-covered land bisected by a two lane highway. A car has veered off the road and plowed into the snow. The police inspect the area, looking for clues that might explain the accident.
This is either (a) a scene from early in Fargo or (b) toward the end of X-Files: I Want to believe. If you chose (a) and (b), you’re correct! The two films are remarkably similar, except for small differences like Fargo is funny and has surprising, interesting characters, while X-Files: I Want to Believe is deadly serious, with an established cast that’s dull and predicable. The two films also feature female characters in law enforcement. And there’s lots of snow…in both films.
Actually, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
In any case, forget about Fargo. X-Files: I Want to Believe doesn’t even have that much in common with X-Files: The TV Series or X-Files: The Previous Movie. If you’re expecting government cover-ups, ETs, implants, and alien hybrids–you know, X-Files kind of stuff–this might not be the movie for you.
To be fair, the TV series featured two kinds of stories: mythology and stand-alone. The ongoing mythology stories involved malevolent aliens and the stand-alones could be about anything from bionic werewolves to government AI programs run amuck. It’s disappointing the alien invasion story isn’t being wrapped up or even advanced, but since karmic-vampires or a sentient virus are always only a clue or unexpected revelation away, the absence of any kind of extraterrestrial threat can be forgiven.
What can’t be forgiven is the ridiculous beard Mulder has for the first third of the film. He doesn’t look rugged or crazed or even unkept. He just looks idiotic. Then there’s the fright wig on Billy Collins. And Scully–sure she looks fine, I’m not saying she doesn’t–but she is noticeably thinner than the last time we saw her, and, well, not so much like the Scully from the TV series anymore. To be honest, it’s a relief when Skinner shows up and he’s not sporting a mustache or a toupe.
But goofy looking characters are only the tip of the iceberg as far as the problems in this film go, and they’d all be a lot easier to put up with if the payoff was some kind of trans-dimensional being or even a sasquatch, for Chrissakes. But when all is said and done, what the menace turns out to be is…a clairvoyant, pedafile priest? In a story about an organ harvesting scheme? Which ultimately turns out to be a lame-ass Frankenstein story?
And let’s be clear: we’re not talking Boris Karloff or even Christopher Lee Frankenstein. X-Files: I Want to Believe is a lot closer to something like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. The big difference is, Brain is a crazy but entertaining film about a hen-pecked husband whose wife has been reduced to a hectoring, demanding head screaming orders at him from a pan on a table. X-Files, on the other hand, has a couple of thugs attempting to make some money off of head transplants.
As lame and half-baked as the story is, the lame, half-baked dialogue is even worse. A good portion of what Scully has to say consists of some variation of the following:
“This isn’t my life, anymore.”
“I don’t work with Fox Mulder, anymore.”
This isn’t my job, anymore.”
“Mulder, it’s over.”
At some point, this starts to sound less like dialogue from a character and more like the mantra of a filmmaker who no longer wants to have anything to do with his creation. If, however, Chris Carter still harbors hopes of relaunching the original show or possibly a series of TV movies and is only marking time with this latest effort until he can make that happen, then someone needs take him aside and have a little talk .
To paraphrase Scully, “Carter, it’s over.”
And no, I don’t want to believe.