When Chris Carter revealed the first footage from the new X-Files movie at this year's Comi-Con Festival 2008 in San Diego accompanied by stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, it was greeted with crowds of hysteria by the festival's visitors. It showed Billy Connolly rushing through the deep snow atop a frozen lake, an FBI search team equipped with helicopters and Alsatians following behind him. He would drop to his knees and cry..."Its Here!.....Here!.....it's Here!". Great stuff I can tell you, and certainly enough to get you very excited about the prospect of the new movie.
Indeed, it's very appealing to see Duchovny and Anderson back on the screen together after 6 years since the show aired it's final episode. The X-Files show was always of a high quality, and the first X-Files movie, released in '95, was also very well produced. The same can be said this time. X-Files creator Chris Carter, making his feature debut, has put together a very detailed and original story for our intrepid heroes to unravel. This time around the story has nothing to do with the alien mythology: the thread that ran through the core of the series. Here we have a stand-alone mystery enabling those who've never seen the series to enjoy and appreciate what the X-Files was all about. This was a wise move by the creator. That it has been 6 years since the show finished, it is also entirely possible that there is a whole new audience that may not have even heard of the show - and therefore, may have been completely indifferent to Chris Carter serving up another round of his alien invasion conspiracy.
So.....Just what exactly is this new adventure about? The production has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception with even the actors somewhat in the dark regarding the movie's script and story - and this is perhaps the first opportunity for a reviewer to identify where the problems with this picture may lie. The idea of keeping plot details secret was a marketing masterstroke during the heights of the show's popularity, compelling the audience to tune in to find out more. Everyone wanted to learn of the phenomena that Mulder and Scully were investigating each week. But 6 years after the show ended??!! There is not the same level of interest in Mulder and Scully anymore, and during a recent visit to the cinema to see another movie, I heard several very audible groans from the audience when the trailer for this movie was shown. You cannot employ the same marketing tactics for this movie that you used six or seven years ago! It just won't work! Audiences are just not as interested in the X-Files as much as they used to be. And the marketing department at Fox Pictures should have known this! There is also a certain amount of mis-direction with regards to the content of the picture. The film is trailered to suggest that Mulder and Scully will be hunting down some kind of terrible creature or beast, some kind of mutant human - possibly a werewolf. But this is absolutely not what you get! Don't misunderstand me, I am a big fan of the X-Files and very much in favour of being surprised when I go to the cinema. But by the end of the first act, when it becomes apparent what the film is really about, you will very likely be disappointed. Fox Pictures obviously realised this in advance and had the movie marketed as a horror.
Another problem with the picture is the release date. Why open a slightly macabre movie like The X-Files, which may be obscure to some, during the height of the summer season only one week after the most long-awaited picture of the year: The Dark Knight? Given the film's subject matter it would have been more suited to a late September release, or perhaps October. The story is set during the dead of winter showing FBI search teams wrapped up in thick insulated coats struggling through blizzards. To release the film during the summer was completely inappropriate, when audiences prefer to see fun popcorn blockbusters drenched in sunshine.
To give the movie it's due; it is very well made, well acted and well directed. But the film's main problem is that it comes across as a very straightforward FBI/Police procedural: competently put together but nothing spectacular - perhaps an illustration of the movie's relatively tight budget (approximately $30 million), quite low for a studio picture. But there is still much to enjoy; Mulder and Scully's relationship developed to the point where they are now sleeping together, and thankfully, being honest with each other. Their more intimate moments are quite affecting, and there is a very emotional sub-plot with Scully (now a Doctor) battling to cure a terminally ill child at the medical facility where she works. The supporting cast also do well; Amanda Peet and rapper Alvin `Xzibit' Joiner feature as other FBI agents on the hunt for a missing colleague, and finally; (Yay!) Mitch Pileggi appears in the final act as Assistant Director Walter Skinner, adding a bit of excitement to proceedings as Scully struggles through the snow whilst trying to locate a missing Mulder.
The DVD is released in both a single disc and double disc format. Both versions available are Chris Carter's Director's Cut. The Single Disc edition has the movie and a few trailers. The 2 Disc Edition is packed to the brim with numerous documentaries and featurettes. It is also equipped with a Digital Copy of the film for you to download to your relevant ipod media etc.
In conclusion: a well made but slightly underwhelming drama. Roll-on the next alien invasion movie!