I Want to Believe: I don’t think I’m the one who’s changed.


 

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This wasn’t the plan. Within a year of the series finale, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz were brainstorming an idea for the next installment in what everyone assumed would be The X-Files’ continuing feature film franchise. The release would be sometime in 2004. The fandom was out there.

But then, there were delays, and negotiations, and delays, and scheduling issues, and more delays… and a lawsuit. By the end of all that, Carter and Spotnitz were left to work with a small budget, an unsupportive studio, and a dwindling fan base; the cultural zeitgeist of the 90’s had passed and even if it hadn’t, Seasons 8 and 9 had laid waste to much of the public’s interest in The X-Files. Oh, and they lost all their plot notes so they had to scrap their previous ideas and start the script from scratch. Oh, and there was a writer’s strike during filming which meant they couldn’t fix any of the script’s problems.

I Want to Believe was a brainchild born under less than ideal circumstances. It’s little wonder then that it wafts whiffs of the smoke of disappointment. When I squint at it mentally, I see a middle aged man looking nostalgically back on his promising youth and trying to keep hope alive for the future.

But is it good?

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One plan that stayed alive from the beginning was to make this movie an extended Monster of the Week episode, a stand-alone, rather than write it as part of the larger mythology. This way audiences who didn’t know the series could get into it; it could generate general interest and pave the path for more films. As a fan who always leaned more toward the stand-alone episodes, I was and am all for this.

IWTB is an atmospheric, contained, pensive film. That’s what it needed to be, especially on a small budget. Personally, I wasn’t looking for loud explosions or dramatic special effects. I needed a Monster of the Week, not that was bigger and badder, but that was better than what I got in a typical episode.

To that end, the film is shot beautifully. The production went back to Vancouver and the director of photography from the series, Bill Roe, was brought back for this big screen effort so it looks like The X-Files. Someone new to the franchise would get a quick and easy idea of its trademark aesthetic. The setting, the chill, the darkness, it’s all perfect. And for a while, it convinces me I’m back home, imaginatively speaking.

But the difficulty in making this a MOTW is that it creates continuity issues for long time fans. When we last saw Mulder and Scully some six years previously, Mulder was on the run for his life after being given the death penalty by the F.B.I.. After being a part of the plan to help him escape, Scully ran off with him, and I don’t suppose she handed in her resignation either. We left them in a hotel room in New Mexico, hiding from an alien infiltrated government and on their way to Canada, ready to give everything in order to prevent alien colonization before D-Day 12/22/12.

In order for this to be a proper MOTW and still fit into the framework of the mythology, I assumed they would still be on the run or in hiding, but would somehow stumble upon an X-File, an outbreak of platonic paranormal activity or some such. I was sort of right about their being in hiding. Mulder’s hiding out in his home office while Scully lives openly, not under an assumed name, and works in a private Catholic hospital. There’s no underlying sense of urgency. (I’m sorry… when did the Super Soldiers stop posing a threat? I don’t need a mythology rundown, just a wee bit of context, please.)

After all that build up Season 9 about the government being out to kill Mulder, after Carter painted these two characters into the ultimate corner where they have no choice but to leave everything and everyone behind to take on the world by themselves, the threat is magically gone, just like Scully’s cancer, just like Mulder’s brain disease, and just like William. It’s safe for Mulder to walk into F.B.I. headquarters now. There are no Super Soldiers hiding in plain sight there. And the government doesn’t care about him one way or the other. “Just do us this favor and we’ll pretend none of it ever happened, Mulder.” Well, I’m going to do this plot a favor and pretend this issue was resolved in a much more satisfactory fashion.

In the grand scheme of things, how they get to this point is not a big deal. All that matters to me is that Mulder and Scully have an X-File to solve again. Mulder and Scully. Mulder and Scully.

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Is it too much to ask to see Mulder and Scully solve an interesting case… together? That’s all I want. That’s what I tuned into The X-Files to see every week. Instead we have Scully at first urging Mulder back into the land of the living only to retreat herself just as things get interesting. If IWTB is anything, it’s a character study, but not of Mulder, of Scully.

For first time viewers, it no doubt doesn’t matter. But for obsessive Philes, we know that Scully has a long history of being a paying passenger on Mulder’s crazy train. She’s briefly fantasized about normalcy in episodes like “Emily” (5×7) and “Dreamland” (6×4). And she’s questioned her life choices a few times in episodes like “Never Again” (4×13) and “all things” (7×17). But as in the ending of “all things”, she has reaffirmed her decision to continue tilting at windmills with Mulder over and over again. She did it, for example, in “Quagmire” (3×22), “Tooms” (1×20), “Paper Clip” (3×2), “Memento Mori” (4×15), Fight the Future, etc. etc. Scully wasn’t dragged into this quest and she hasn’t been dragged along. She’s invested in the journey.

Heck, she even reconfirmed her commitment in “The Field Where I Died” (4×5). It’s a strange day indeed when I have to use TFWID as evidence of anything good and true…

Anyway, the last time we saw Scully in “The Truth” (9×19/20) she was doing what she does best after debunking Mulder’s theories and that’s keeping him in the fight, like she did in “Little Green Men” (2×1), “One Son” (6×12), and “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), to mention a few episodes of note. Scully is the official Keeper of Mulder’s Faith. And that’s why reading between the lines of the script, I believe ITWB was designed to turn the tables, that it’s meant to show us a weary Scully who now has to be urged back into battle herself by Mulder and by God.

This is potentially a very interesting and welcome moment of personal evolution for her character. Characters, like real people (and Scully is real), evolve and change. But if Scully’s going to jump from “Let’s fight the darkness, Mulder” to “I don’t wanna fight the darkness, Mulder” then we need some kind of context as to how and why.

I remember in the script stage talking a lot about what Scully could say and couldn’t say to [Mulder], that it couldn’t be selfish, her refusal to join him and wanting him to stop. She had to have legitimate reasons about where she was in her life. – Spotnitz, Blu-ray Commentary

Did going on the lam test her faith and her patience? Did she miss her family? Is that why she and Mulder settled down and she took a regular job again? Scully says that she and Mulder have a home and that she doesn’t want the darkness to creep back into that home. Is it that she and Mulder have finally found happiness and she doesn’t want to lose it? Or is it the relative peace that she values? ‘Cause they don’t exactly look like they’re living in non-marital bliss…

Is it that she’s rediscovered her calling as a physician? Are we supposed to understand she’s found fulfillment elsewhere now that she and Mulder aren’t chasing monsters anymore and that her work helping others has replaced the necessity of her work on the X-Files? Maybe it’s her relationship with young Christian, who is not so subtly named “Christian” and comes to represent both her lost son and the Christian faith she questions as she thinks on both her own losses and this young boy’s suffering.

If all that is the case, then I’m sad to say it doesn’t prove particularly effective as character motivation. The fate of the wide world rests on Mulder and Scully’s shoulders, but having Mulder out of the house for this case is too much for her to take? So she threatens to leave the only person who understands everything she’s been through? The person who she’s saved and who has saved her more times than she can count? Really? Well just roll me into a ball of confusion.

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When did Scully become that chick? When did she become the clingy girlfriend or the stereotypical cop’s wife for whom no emergency is worth her husband missing dinner? The woman who from the outside male perspective doesn’t appear logical, but purely hormonal? Scully’s suddenly the type to emotionally manipulate Mulder into doing what she wants by holding their relationship over his head?

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a very low tolerance for onscreen relationship drama. Breakup or don’t. I have things to do.

I think the tension between Mulder and Scully would have worked much better if it had stayed centered around the case. We’re used to seeing Mulder and Scully at odds. The tension between them comes from their different perspectives, which actually work in a sort of harmony to drive the plot forward. There’s no need to force feed us marital drama. If there’s tension between them, let it be about the work itself, not their personal romance.

After all, as ever, they’re ultimately after the same thing. Scully is trying to save a life and so is Mulder. Not only is she after the same thing, she’s going after it in the same way – by exploring extreme possibilities. Even if Scully is wrapped up in what she’s doing at the hospital, there’s no legitimate emotional reason given for why she wants Mulder to give up trying to save these women and come back home and be a good househusband. (Oh, are you losing Mulder’s attention? I am so sorry.)

But that’s enough of my sarcasm because this isn’t a horrible movie. In fact, it starts off really well. There’s a creepy murder. Mulder and Scully are on a new mission – the team is back together. Mark Snow’s music is as effective as ever. It’s dark, it’s atmospheric, Mulder’s spouting mumbo jumbo nobody cares about and Scully looks worried about him. All is well in my world.

I especially like how the movie keeps us guessing as to the current status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. Is it just that she knows how to find him for the F.B.I. or that they’re in regular contact? Are they in regular contact or is she at home in that house? Even at the end of the movie, is Scully moving out and saying goodbye or is she leaving for another day at work? See how things don’t have to be out in the open to stay interesting?

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Unfortunately, though, the movie hops over the boredom line at about the halfway mark. As the relationship drama ramps up, the mystery itself winds down. Instead of taking time to develop the villain or up the stakes of the plot, IWTB focuses on Mulder and Scully’s adventures with the peodophile priest. Father Joe is played convincingly and even sympathetically by Billy Connolly. But the overall plot is sacrificed to the themes of persistence and redemption that Father Joe represents. I love those themes, but isn’t there still supposed to be a mystery here worth solving?

Father Joe is here more than anything to be the voice of God for Scully, to convince her not to give up on young Christian or her faith. But, Scully’s like the prophet Jonah. Some people she’d rather not see God forgive. There can’t be a more unregenerate soul than a priest turned pedophile, right? If so, then the theme that absolutely anyone can be redeemed and anyone who presents themselves available can be used by God comes through loud and clear. By the end, Scully seems to have accepted the message on behalf of us all. 

As ever in The X-Files, God, Providence is at work behind the events. These are themes Chris Carter keeps coming back to, no doubt because they’re a part of him.

Verdict:

It’s not great, it’s not horrible. It’s just okay. But “okay” isn’t a satisfying comeback after six years. And “okay” doesn’t get you a third movie.

I remember seeing this in the theater for my 25th birthday. One of my best friends had come down to help me celebrate my quarter life crisis and what perfect timing! Mulder and Scully were back. After the way Season 9 ended and the amount of time that had passed, I had assumed all momentum was gone and that there would be no movie franchise forthcoming. Imagine the thrill when I found out we were getting a new movie, and a MOTW at that!

I was duly giddy with excitement, but I couldn’t help noting that we were about the only ones in the theater. And while the movie started out great, even as I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was happy to be seeing Mulder and Scully onscreen even when I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying myself, I knew even then that this wasn’t the kind of movie that spawned yet another movie. Mulder and Scully waved to me and I waved back to them (shamelessly) with the sad knowledge that this likely really was the end this time.

And then it wasn’t…

“I think we always had the desire that we would potentially do a third feature. I think we all felt that the second one that we did wasn’t necessarily the right way for us to end.” – Gillian Anderson

“I feel like we didn’t end on the right note before.“ – Gillian Anderson

I so agree. And I’m so, so grateful that it didn’t end here. If this had been a mediocre episode of the series, I could’ve shrugged off some of its failings much easier. When I thought it was The X-Files’ last gasp, it was a more painful thought. I’ve gone through ups and downs in my feelings about IWTB, but I think I’ve finally learned to accept it for what it is.  IWTB sounds like an instrument tuning back up. But you don’t listen to the orchestra tune up without then sitting through the concert. This was The X-Files getting a feel for itself again. This was the actors connecting with the characters again. This wasn’t a fully satisfying outing that left you feeling like Mulder and Scully’s journey was complete.

In the end, I’m glad IWTB wasn’t sufficient to launch another movie. In the end, the only satisfying way to finish out this series is to finish it out as a series. A couple of hours of screen time isn’t going to cut it to resolve everything that needs to be resolved. We don’t know where this new miniseries will lead, if it will lead to other miniseries. But if I can see the old team solving cases together one more time, it’ll all be worth it.

C+

Misplaced Bush Jokes:

“This stubbornness of yours… it’s why I fell in love with you.” I HATE this line. It’s the low point of the movie and one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the entire franchise. And no, I’m not surrendering my shipper card.

Enough with the free ads for Google. Google’s doing just fine on its own.

Realistically, this stood no chance being released during The Dark Knight’s massive reign.

A gay man kills innocent people to harvest limbs for transplant for his lover as part of a Russian medical conspiracy. They really thought that would work as a plot, huh?

Amanda Peet and Xzibit don’t feel like X-Files characters.

Speaking of which, what was the point of Agent Whitney’s toothless Mulder crush? I mean, other than kinda grossing me and Scully out?

Scully’s abilities as a doctor were always suspect given her resume. But when did she find time while on the run from the government to undergo training in pediatrics? And now the pathologist is poking around in the brains of the living? Scully does a quick Google search then wheels the boy into the OR for an experimental procedure the same day?

And, really? We’re going to bring Scully back to Seasons 1 & 3 with the “Samantha is Mulder’s only motivation” schtick?

THE BEARD, THO.

I can’t believe the Russians would successfully do those surgeries in those kind of unsanitary conditions.

“Write it down. Put it in a book.” – HUH???

William left me with an emptiness that couldn’t be filled either. Let’s see what happens now…

Dear Revival – As you can see, we’ve already been there, done that with the breakup idea.

Movin’ On Up:

The Skinner Hug. Squeal me.

I remember the actress who plays the missing agent from “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6). TPMP – My eternal debt to Chris Carter.

Between this and TPMP, it’s clear Chris Carter has a Frankenstein fetish.

Father Joe can’t have visions with Scully in the room. Echoes of the Stupendous Yappi in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (3×4).

The hospital asks Scully to let go of her case, Scully asks Mulder to let go of his.

I love the effortless elegance of Scully’s hair.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: If it were me, I’d be on the guy 24/7, I’d be in bed with him kissing his holy ass.

Whitney: Father Joe’s a convicted pedophile.

Mulder: …Maybe I’d stay out of bed with him.

——————–

Scully: What is this?

Whitney: Dorms for habitual sex offenders.

Scully: Dorms?

Whitney: They manage the complex and police themselves. Father Joe lives here voluntarily with his roommate.

Mulder: Just avoid the activities room.

——————–

Scully: What are you doing?

Mulder: [Walks off] I’m trying to ignore you. {Editor’s Note: ME TOO.}

——————–

Skinner: I know Mulder. He’d get to a phone and call first. He wouldn’t do anything crazy.

Scully: [Looks at him]

Skinner: Not overly crazy.

 

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42 responses to “I Want to Believe: I don’t think I’m the one who’s changed.

  1. The only thing I remember about this movie is the beard. Seriously. It was my only takeaway.
    I’m going to watch the last episodes today.

  2. I agree with nearly all of what you’re saying here–except your conclusion. You gave a B- rating to this hot mess? They had what, six years, to figure out a plot and this was the best they could come up with? A gay man who keeps murdering women in order that the Russian Dr. Frankenstein can keep reattaching his lover’s head to their female bodies? A priest who is a pedophile and has a psychic connection to the case because he abused the murderer when he was a child? The plot was badly conceived, and offensive. It was also a huge personal disappointment because Mulder and Scully weren’t solving the case together. That’s why I watched The X-Files in the first place, and that’s why I went to the theater: to watch them work together again–and Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz couldn’t even give me that. Instead they had Mulder and Scully were fighting about whether or not Mulder should be “chasing monsters in the dark,” this after Scully brings the case to Mulder herself.

    I don’t care when this was released: it was doomed to fail because it was terrible.

    If Scully’s journey of faith was going to be the central conflict in the film and the Frankenstein stuff was just an excuse for a plot, we needed to see why Scully returned to medicine. We needed an explanation for how she managed to start practicing pediatrics. We need to understand what she’s afraid of, when Mulder begins investigating cases again. “We have a home, now, Mulder” just doesn’t cut it. I shouldn’t have to depend on fanfiction, then or now, to fill in the gaps.

    RE: the revival. I don’t care about their romantic relationship, or lack thereof. I really don’t care about William at this point. The magical baby business was a huge boondoggle back in the day. Unless they’re planning to make a television series about a 15-year-old with magical powers (and his former FBI Agent father) who uses them to save people, I don’t see the point of dredging all of that up again. I just want to see some scary episodes and watch Mulder and Scully work together. I have zero tolerance for the Carter-created relationship drama.

    Um. That got kind of long and ranty-pants. Sorry about that.

    • LOL!! Well, I hemmed and hawed about it, but I really did enjoy the visuals, the score, and the acting… or what they could make of the acting with such a plot. Overall, I don’t hate it. I just don’t reach for it either.

      A gay man who keeps murdering women in order that the Russian Dr. Frankenstein can keep reattaching his lover’s head to their female bodies? A priest who is a pedophile and has a psychic connection to the case because he abused the murderer when he was a child?

      There’s really no way to summarize the plot and make it sound remotely good. What does that say? Though they used male bodies too, it’s mentioned. Not that that makes it any better…

      It was also a huge personal disappointment because Mulder and Scully weren’t solving the case together. That’s why I watched The X-Files in the first place, and that’s why I went to the theater: to watch them work together again

      Yes!! Me too!!

      I don’t care when this was released: it was doomed to fail because it was terrible.

      I don’t think it was terrible, just that it wasn’t great. BUT, I agree that this wasn’t a moneymaker regardless of the season or the competition. I think those issues just compounded the problem.

      If Scully’s journey of faith was going to be the central conflict in the film and the Frankenstein stuff was just an excuse for a plot, we needed to see why Scully returned to medicine. We needed an explanation for how she managed to start practicing pediatrics. We need to understand what she’s afraid of, when Mulder begins investigating cases again. “We have a home, now, Mulder” just doesn’t cut it.

      OMW, yes, yes, yes!

      The magical baby business was a huge boondoggle back in the day.

      It was a headache they wrote for themselves. I don’t want to see William become the focus. But I’d like to see a better plot resolution than “We’ve both lost so much.”

      Um. That got kind of long and ranty-pants. Sorry about that.

      Um. So did my review. Sorry about that.

    • Just have to pop in here and say “I shouldn’t have to depend on fanfiction, then or now, to fill in the gaps” is a great line. And very true.

  3. It’s a sad day when the Bum Review is better than the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqik58GRUig

    Anyway, yeah. I hated this movie when I first watched it. I still hate it now. The entire conflict is based around a non-issue, and there’s no excuse for Mulder’s terrible haircut.

    • Who knew about E.T.’s closeted history?

      But really, the central conflict is forced and doesn’t seem natural to the characters… the memory of which gives me pause when I hear CC say their breakup status in the revival is “honest to the relationship.”

      THE BEARD, THO.

      • I don’t know what “honest to their relationship” means. They’ve never been clear about many aspects of their relationship in the first place. Come on, CC. We’re due some answers.

  4. “In this myth, the Gila monster restores a man by taking all his parts and putting them back together . . . then lighting and thunder bring the man back to life.”

    I just watched Paper Clip last night. And you mentioning CC’s preoccupation with Frankenstein made this inclusion of Navajo myth even more relevant to me. I don’t know if CC appropriated it to suit his story, and I struggle a lot more now with cultural appropriation in TXF, for various reasons. The similarities to Mary Shelley’s work and the (maybe) Navajo myth are cool, though.

    I don’t have much to say about IWTB, though, lol. You sorted out all my thoughts in a coherent way, as you tend to do!

    • Although, I just realized the lightning thing was a part of the Frankenstein movie/pop culture interpretation of the novel. In the book, we don’t know how Frankenstein gives life to the Creature.

    • I didn’t even remember that story in “Paper Clip”! He’s even more obsessed than I thought.

      But if you’re going to write a Frankenstein tale, then Dr. Frankenstein has to be a character of note!

  5. Yeah I was highly irritated with Scully’s characterization in this movie. One of the biggest draws to the series for me was always how tough and intelligent her character was. Ultimately that’s what made me stop watching, I think, in Season 9. And it’s made me hate this movie the first, oh, 7 years after it’s release. Like hate it. I tolerated it this time around just to set me up for the new series.

    I said earlier that I can buy them splitting up, but at least do it from a stance of toughness and not this weepy, needy b.s. that they forced us to watch in the last parts of this show.

    I, too, laughed out loud at the range of Scully’s doctor skills. From pathologist to pediatric neurosurgeon in the span of a few years. I knew she was smart, but wowzers, what a freakin medical prodigy she must be! The FBI was lucky to grab her! A pediatric surgeon, too, as we all know she’s really got that great bedside touch (looking at you, Pine Bluff Variant and Essence…). As a bonus, I dragged my best friend to this movie who’d just graduated with her R.N., so the embarrassment was real.

    All I really want from this series is for them to solve cases together, bail each other out a few times, together, and get beaten up and maybe beat a couple people up along the way. Oh and Skinner. I could use more of that bald beautiful man in my life.

    • And it’s made me hate this movie the first, oh, 7 years after it’s release. Like hate it. I tolerated it this time around just to set me up for the new series.

      My grudge against IWTB used to be stronger as well. I think it goes down much easier knowing it wouldn’t be the last we see of TXF. A spoonful of sugar and all that.

      I said earlier that I can buy them splitting up, but at least do it from a stance of toughness and not this weepy, needy b.s. that they forced us to watch in the last parts of this show.

      Between S9 and IWTB, I miss Scully. Whether or not I can buy the breakup will depend on whether they go the whiny IWTB route or whether, like you said, it comes from a place of strength where she’s not so much abandoning her constant, her touchstone, for the sake of her own emotional needs as she is trying to prod him back to life.

      as we all know she’s really got that great bedside touch (looking at you, Pine Bluff Variant and Essence…)

      Right??? I know Scully represents CC’s dream woman, but let’s get just a tad real. This goes back to M&S needing a well thought out backstory as to how they ended up where we found them.

      All I really want from this series is for them to solve cases together, bail each other out a few times, together, and get beaten up and maybe beat a couple people up along the way. Oh and Skinner. I could use more of that bald beautiful man in my life.

      This is not too much to ask!

      • Hadn’t considered the prod back to life angle, but that would work and be awesome at the same time. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen in the previews and am pretty hopeful. It’s nice to know she at least remembers how to hold a gun and a flashlight at the same time (maybe they should consider this: http://www.amazon.com/Aimkon-HiLight-P10S-Flashlight-Release/dp/B0036S5W42 just a thought). Though if it’s anything like X-files past, I hope behind the scenes they remember how to fill out forms, because the amount of paperwork they had to have generated accounting for ammunition and all the weapons they lost makes me shudder.

  6. The only good things about this movie are the visuals and the bedroom scene. I mean, this film is quite beautiful. I love the snowy, cold atmosphere. I think one of my favorite shots is Mulder walking down the snowy road after he climbs out of his crashed car. And Scully practically glows in the snow with her red hair and blue eyes. The bedroom scene, I felt, gave me a hint of the old Mulder and Scully communicating and helping to support each other in some way while having that underlying playfulness and love resonating between them.

    Other than that, this movie is a hot mess. I did not come into this movie wanting to watch Mulder and Scully’s lack of communication lead them to being at odds romantically and each fighting their own separate battles. Why did they think this would be a good idea? The last thing I want is to watch Mulder running around an old building chasing a suspect while another woman calls out his name. And Scully, where did this emotional manipulation come from? She just doesn’t feel like herself at all. I think, though, it’s less of a disappointment watching IWTB right after season 9, since Scully was not herself at all there, either. At least Mulder is around for this one. And the actual case isn’t all that good, so what am I watching this for, again? The ONLY reason why Scully figures out what’s going on is because she prints out every damn article on google with her key words and one of them just HAPPENS to cover what’s going on. That’s…terrible. Couldn’t Scully have been involved and used her science for something more interesting? Couldn’t this film just have been better? At least this isn’t the end. Maybe there’s hope. I want to believe.

    From what it seems in the previews for the revival, Mulder and Scully seem to communicate better. Scully finally seems to feel comfortable being open with Mulder. Yay! They’re still separated, but hopefully it’s done in a healthy, better way. And it also seems that they are fighting side by side and solving cases together. I’m very optimistic that this revival will be better than the latter part of what came before.

    • That’s all we got, too. A *hint* of the old Mulder and Scully before it was ripped from our innocent, trembling fingers. Okay, so they kind of returned it… with a snogging session tacked onto the end?

      Funny, all the M&S gifs out there and I see very few from IWTB, for all they were openly romantic…

      I so agree. Scully is hardly recognizable – and I don’t think the issue is GA’s acting at all. Scully doesn’t make sense. I can take it if they want to take her character places she hasn’t been before. But if she’s going to go through those kinds of life changes, she has to have an impetus. Wanting Mulder home at night when she’s not going to be there herself is not an impetus.

      And if Google isn’t the death knell of this plot. I really hope that they don’t overuse smartphones as a plot device come the revival.

      Whatever the excuse for splitting them up might be, at least they’ll be back together as a team. I’m just going to assume IWTB was one giant midlife crisis for everyone involved.

  7. I know I probably have only myself to blame for not showing up the first weekend this movie played, but I was never the sort of person to rush out to the theater. Still, I was very excited to see this movie, and I had planned to go out and see it, but after like the first week or two it just wasn’t playing anymore. I didn’t catch it for another year or two. I know there’s a whole business to it, but how are people supposed to see the movie if it’s not playing anywhere?

    Anyway, I liked the movie okay the first time I saw it. I was just happy to see Mulder and Scully together on screen again (working – I could do without the romance, although in this movie it’s more like drama). After all, I quit watching the series because Mulder disappeared. But watching the movie again this time, after finishing the series, I have to agree it’s a disappointment.

    Whatever anyone might say about artistic integrity, I didn’t like seeing Mulder and Scully “evolved”, like as if they were real people, with real lives. I might just be living a fantasy inside my own head, but I want all the post-Fight The Future character developments (the whole falling in love and having a love child thing, not to mention what they did with Samantha) scrapped, and for Mulder and Scully to go back to being the Mulder and Scully I like the best, the Mulder and Scully that became iconic – the way they were in the first few seasons.

    “Amanda Peet and Xzibit don’t feel like X-Files characters.”

    They don’t feel like FBI agents, either.

    • It left theaters fast. Not that I felt particularly inspired to run out and see it again, but I didn’t even have the opportunity. All in all, it was fine. That wave goodbye from the boat felt final anyway.

      I was just happy to see Mulder and Scully together on screen again (working – I could do without the romance, although in this movie it’s more like drama).

      There’s a fine line. They crossed it. But back in the day, it was a joy to see them again regardless. I’m like you on that. In the cold light of the Season 9 finale, it’s even more of a letdown.

      Whatever anyone might say about artistic integrity, I didn’t like seeing Mulder and Scully “evolved”, like as if they were real people, with real lives.

      That’s because CC originally conceived of them as romantic heroes. They’re not supposed to evolve in an overly real-world fashion, but that’s exactly the turn IWTB took. If anything, I think artistic integrity would have been maintaining that basic premise. I’m not anti the romance, I think that felt right and natural for the characters based on the circumstances the quest boxed them into. BUT, the journey is the thing, not this relationship drama… I can’t deal.

      Even the Samantha resolution slipped into the real world arena. Maybe that’s part of why it’s so unsatisfying even if they episodes themselves were well done.

  8. Making the rounds of the blogs right before the revival premiere…
    Your assessment of IWTB is amazingly close to mine — alas! Not exceptional, some good aspects, not entirely bad either. DD & GA are very interesting as Mulder & Scully and elevate the film, even if *at the same time* many things can be said about inconsistency and out-of-character behaviour for both. The religious tones and “evil consequences of good intentions” aspects of the MOTW are great, but they could have been conveyed in a better way, with more development of the bad guys. I was so bitter after that premiere in 2008!
    http://www.eatthecorn.com/eps/X2.htm

    In retrospective the film has grown on me a bit, I am more accepting of seeing a Mulder-Scully drama than I was in my earlier more plot-focused days, and the film looks good on the television, best seen on a bleak winter day.
    The revival series is a bit of a miracle after this, but it’s probably also due to the fact that Fox-features and Fox-TV have different decision structures.

    • It’s so good to see you here! And by “see” I mean read black typeset on a white background.

      I just read your review and it’s *awesome*. Completely thorough. I had no idea this was greenlit because of the writer’s strike.

      The story was sacrificed to romantic drama for the sake of having a romantic drama. Happy as I am to see Mulder and Scully on my screen under any pretext, I do not appreciate that.

      The religious themes could have been interesting too. But from what I understand, there was some awkwardness for Spotnitz as he’s not the believer Carter is and they had to make some compromises with the script in order for the movie to say something he was comfortable with saying.

      I’m sure the causes were legion, but the result is an unfocused movie. I’m so glad Fox-TV didn’t take IWTB to heart but listened to the voice of the fandom instead.

  9. Before I go on my M/S tangent, I want to state for the record that Billy Connelly was simply amazing in this film; it is a shame his wonderful performance was lost in this quagmire 😦 And now on to what makes me a Phile – the MSR:

    “In the grand scheme of things, how they get to this point is not a big deal. All that matters to me is that Mulder and Scully have an X-File to solve again. Mulder and Scully. Mulder and Scully.”

    Yes. This. I’ve looked forward to a discussion here about the merits and missteps of IWTB. When I first saw the film, I walked out of the theatre downright angry that we were allotted two precious Mulder and Scully-filled hours and, as with most of my least favorite episodes, they spent most of their time apart. This is counter to the laws of physics and the natural order of things.

    The X Files is typically not written well enough to withstand the absence of their chemistry. As with my love for the British equivalent, the Steed and Mrs. Peel years of “The Avengers”, the plots often make zero sense but I don’t care because they are so amazing together and can sell the non-sensical so well; I’m just happy to be in on the party. It takes a very solid script to survive “intermittent M/S” (hereafter iMS). There some notable exceptions to the no iMS principle; my favorite is probably “Tithonus” which, no surprises here, is a Vince Gilligan script. Chris Carter on his own does not typically have the writing chops to write a great iMS script – especially when we fans had been waiting for YEARS to see our heroes back on screen. TOGETHER. (NOTE: I’ll always hold up “Irresistible” as the single, glorious exception to my never-ending CC-is-GeorgeLucasLevel-overrated rants.)

    About a year and a half ago, I re-watched IWTB and felt quite frustrated that there were so many great elements within the film yet it has such an unsatisfying outcome. The performances, the cinematography, their return to the Vancouver area – this could’ve been far better than FTF, a movie I love watching although the plot makes no sense… however FTF gives us great M/S therefore I throw critical thinking to the wind and enjoy the film.

    “I remember in the script stage talking a lot about what Scully could say and couldn’t say to [Mulder], that it couldn’t be selfish, her refusal to join him and wanting him to stop.” – Frank Spotnitz
    I’m really interested in the comments that take issue with Scully’s characterization in IWTB. When I initially viewed the film, I was so put off by Mulder’s truth jihad, resulting in his selfish behavior with Scully, I didn’t take umbrage with her behavior. So much of the series was Scully responding to Mulder’s “where angels fear to tread” behavior, yes, but the stakes are different at this point in their relationship; a long history, a child together, on the run, etc. Mulder can’t be the easiest person to live with and he’s spent years now scouring the Internet for X Files and growing his Unibomber beard meanwhile Scully is working, she has co-workers, she’s saving lives and has a life outside of their farmhouse. When approached about the option to pursue the case Scully is reticent but, against her better judgement, thinks perhaps their participation could pull Mulder from this morass. She knows the risk of re-introducing that lifestyle but the years of pencils hanging from their ceiling indicates drastic measures are necessary. I’m on board with her reasoning here.

    I just re-watched their bedroom scene (b/c yes, I’ve edited all of their scenes into individual files so I can avoid the rest of the film) and it really is gut-wrenching to watch that beautiful exchange: he tells her to get some sleep, for the rest of the night he’ll carry the burden of yearning for their son… and then Mulder truth-jihad kicks in. He immediately forgets about their conversation 5 seconds ago, her pain of helping young Christian and the ongoing pain over the loss of their son. (The son she raised 99% on her own, btw.) From this point forward he is in full-on “you’re either with me or against me” mode and disregards Scully almost entirely, despite her admittance that bringing him into the case was a terrible mistake (“It’s my fault for getting you involved in this.”) Scully essentially took a drunk to a bar, Mulder’s quickly fallen off the wagon and has left her far, far behind.

    “So she threatens to leave the only person who understands everything she’s been through?”
    Yes. 50:15 into the film (#OCD) she stands up for herself in one of the few instances we see throughout their relationship. It is a difficult truth that IRL someone can travel a very difficult journey with you, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy to continue your journey with them. M&S always love each other but Scully has finally realized that it isn’t always healthy to follow him down the rabbit hole. I love Mulder and Scully more than any sane person should but if this were IRL and my friend’s man treated her like this, I’d tell her to run the other way and fast. I’m glad that Scully stood her ground here. Scully doesn’t want to be a party to Mulder’s descent into the darkness nor will she allow herself to be taken by that same darkness. Particularly when she feels responsible to save Christian, ostensibly to manage the guilt of giving up their son. The scene in which she steps into her office and starts to fall apart, stopping only when she realizes a colleague can see her was telling – she’s in torment over her maternal sense of responsibility towards Christian and she’s alone to deal with it. Because Mulder has a very generic, non-X Files missing persons case to solve. Meh.

    BTW Scully apologizes to Mulder at least twice in the movie. Women need to stop apologizing for things that aren’t their fault. Essays are written about this sort of thing.

    It saddens me that from their resolution at the end of IWTB (and the end credits escape to a tropical island) has led to S10’s so-called “break up”. My contention is CC uses this as a crutch to inject some UST into the plot b/c he’s concerned about not being up to the task of this new series. I really wish he’d watch “Catastrophe” or “Friday Night Lights” – it is possible to show a romantic, loving relationship with ups and downs that survives because they do eventually find their way back to each other and it is a joy to watch that process. The “break up” in my view is a cheap and unnecessary gimmick.

    “You don’t think I understand, but I do. This stubbornness of yours, it’s why I fell in love with you.”
    – I’m with you, Salome, this didn’t ring true to me… but then years have passed and I can hope they’re becoming healthy enough to say “I love you” but I tend to think she fell in love with him in large part because of his overwhelming empathy.
    – I zoned out so much during this film I didn’t realize until a recent AV Club write up defending this movie that the kidnapper and the transplant patient were a couple. Knowing that, their plight still means nothing to me.
    – I love Scully/GA’s hair in this movie. I wish she’d colored it for S10, the wig is horrible and distracting.
    – CC actually thought Whitney’s touching Mulder shaving cut was a big deal? Was this supposed to be a threat of some sort and thus she pays with her life? The only threat to MSR is Mulder’s obsessive compulsive “self-righteous, narcissistic, overzealous egomaniac” (How the Ghosts..) personality issues and Carter’s tepid writing.
    – Scully’s reaction when Skinner attempts to assure her Mulder wouldn’t do anything rash — a millisecond of levity and all about holding back the tears of concern. Gillian just nails it and that moment reminds me so much of her facial expression when she uttered the words, “I’m pregnant.”
    – “I’m sorry about your car.” That was such a Mulder and Scully moment, I really loved that… and Scully knocking out whatsisname with shovel.
    – The first part of their bedroom scene… just heavenly. I love seeing them like this; they can exist as a functional couple and be magnetic and solve X Files!!!!! I wish the two people in this moment stayed around for the remainder of the film.

    • How interesting, I’m watching 2x16s “Colony” and their dialogue is:
      S: You’ll pursue a case at the expense of everything, to the point of insanity, and expect me to follow you. There has to be somewhere to draw the line.
      M: Three identical men are dead, a fourth identical man is alive and on the lam. If the pursuit of this case seems like insanity to you, feel free to step away from it.

      • One of my favorite episodes. I was on Mulder’s side then too. And Scully changed her mind and followed him anyway, even after Mulder ran off to set her free. They just keep repeating this cycle, huh?

    • Apparently the New York Times agrees with my Mulder/Unibomber IWTB analogy:

      “Mulder was still cocooned in the Kaczynski-esque existence in which we last saw him in “X-Files: I Want to Believe,” the grim 2008 movie that focused on a clairvoyant pedophile priest.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/arts/television/the-x-files-season-10-premiere-review.html?_r=0

    • Can I just say, I dig that you like to go on “CC-is-GeorgeLucasLevel-overrated rants.” Because lately I’ve been thinking that they way I feel about Chris Carter is very much the way I feel about George Lucas: they are indeed overrated. 🙂

      • *hug* Thanks. It pains me, I remember those first years on the bulletin boards, we were all “praise be unto the Carter!” but as the years passed and my standards didn’t lower, I had to face the fact that he was in the right place at the right time with a truly interesting idea for a television series. It was the casting of DD/GA (by Randy Stone) and other writers (and in some respects, GA’s pregnancy) that made the show amazing. But Chris Carter is very good with the press, does a ton of interviews, joins in on DD/GA’s photo shoots so he’s effectively branded the series as “Chris Carter’s”. Over time this theory has been validated by Carter’s inability to produce anything successful without those writer’s support: The After (Amazon pilot) was terrible, Harsh Realm went no where; he’s no Aaron Sorkin. Millennium was on for three years and the best work was done when Morgan & Wong were running the series and yet again, Darin Morgan’s scripts were the best of the series. Best Lone Gunmen episodes? The Vince Gilligan scripts.

        Maybe this goes back to my childhood Stars, both Trek and Wars. Gene Roddenberry created the Star Trek universe and I’ll always be grateful but he didn’t write any of the great episodes. Trouble with Tribbles/David Gerrold, Amok Time/Theodore Sturgeon, City on the Edge of Forever/Harlan Ellison, The Enterprise Incident/D.C. Fontana. Gene Coon was really considered the backbone of the series and like Morgans and Wong, he doesn’t get nearly the attention that he should. George Lucas created a great pallet but it was Irvin Kershner who made Empire the greatest of the series and much praise should go to Lucas’s ex-wife, Marcia Lucas, for making the first film such a success.

    • This is counter to the laws of physics and the natural order of things.

      It is! It’s like rebelling against the laws of nature. *nods*

      the plots often make zero sense but I don’t care because they are so amazing together and can sell the non-sensical so well; I’m just happy to be in on the party. It takes a very solid script to survive “intermittent M/S” (hereafter iMS).

      *nods again* I understand completely. And I think you should get a trademark on IMS.

      (NOTE: I’ll always hold up “Irresistible” as the single, glorious exception to my never-ending CC-is-GeorgeLucasLevel-overrated rants.)

      LOL!! I love “Irresistible”! That’s the episode that made me a Phile. And may I also add for myself “Triangle”, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” and the tortuously effective “Requiem”.

      felt quite frustrated that there were so many great elements within the film yet it has such an unsatisfying outcome. The performances, the cinematography, their return to the Vancouver area – this could’ve been far better than FTF, a movie I love watching although the plot makes no sense… however FTF gives us great M/S therefore I throw critical thinking to the wind and enjoy the film.

      ITA. FTF isn’t a perfect movie either, but it’s a whole lot more entertaining and so its foibles are forgiven. IWTB had a lot potentially going for it.

      As far as characterization, I don’t read Mulder as selfish in IWTB at all. Yes, he’s got some fire under him again. But he needed that fire. And what’s more, there are victims out there who need him to have that fire. I imagine that a lot of the reason Mulder may have been difficult to live with stemmed from him not having anything important to do. While Scully may be reluctant to see Mulder fly off the handle completely, I find it hard to believe she’d try to stop him from helping the F.B.I. get to the truth. She was always an advocate for victims and that aspect of her character still propels her now in her treatment of Christian. I don’t see Mulder as saying “you’re with me or against me”, I actually hear Scully saying “you’re in the house or I’m out of it.” Mulder keeps asking for Scully’s help, but he also gives her room to do her doctor thing and supports her in it. Scully’s the one who wants no part in “the darkness” anymore. I don’t see how his hanging around the farmhouse like a bearded bum is going to help Scully cope with the loss of William. And while it’s necessary to stand up for yourself at times, Scully doesn’t seem to be fighting for anything more than Mulder’s undivided attention. If the case is truly generic, all the more reason Scully should be supporting his attempts to help.

      I wish the two people in this moment stayed around for the remainder of the film.

      That would have been a GREAT movie.

  10. I remember that when this came out, I went with some college friends to the midnight showing at a local theater. The theater had obviously expected it to be a big deal and had accordingly pulled out the stanchions and the crowd-control ropes to keep the expected hordes in line. But when we got there, there was exactly one other group in line, a handful of 30-somethings cosplaying as TXF characters, and we gave each other sort of mournful looks as we got in line; even before the movie started, there was something in the air that told us all that we were about to be disappointed. And we were, and I still remember my friends and the cosplayers shuffling sadly out of the theater at the end. That’s the image that always sticks with me with this movie.

    The plot was incoherent and occasionally offensive, but what got me the most was the idea that Mulder had given up his fight and was whiling away his life creepering around the Internet and perfecting his hobo look. First, it made zero sense—wasn’t he just recently a fugitive? Is the government so quick to forgive?—and second, you’ve got to give me a reason why. You’ve got to make a serious effort to convince me that the Mulder we loved in the series would give up his crusade and fade into obscurity. And they never managed it.

    Great review, as always.

    • That’s the saddest testament.

      But it’s true. It wasn’t up to par. It’s easier to forgive it now, but this wasn’t the level of entertainment we’d come to expect from The X-Files. And since they made this a character study, characterization was the main issue. We need some background as to how they reached this point emotionally and otherwise.

      The good news is, it sounds like the making of this movie is what brought CC, DD & GA back together and what energized them and made them excited about doing more XF.

  11. Pingback: My Struggle 1×01: Now you got my number. | Musings of an X-Phile

  12. In case you all haven’t seen this: my favorite way to revisit IWTB — epic and beautiful and everything I love about MSR:

    (have tissue at the ready)

  13. Pingback: Babylon 10×4: I resent that characterization and I don’t even know what it means. | Musings of an X-Phile

  14. Honestly I really like IWTB. I always felt it was inspired by? A tribute to? Silence of the Lambs. The elements of a) the chasing of the mentally disturbed, Dr Frankenstein motivated serial killer, and b) having a charming monster feeding information to the fbi affiliated person/s in whom we are invested felt very familiar. Particularly in the context of the claustrophobic but somehow also barren cinematography and the cool toned palette. I really think this movie is beautiful and v pre California seasons in vibe. The spine tingling sense of feeling drawn to, and repulsed by, the on side monster (Hannibal/Father Joe – side note why did they still refer to him as father? Presumably he is no longer affiliated with the Church in any official capacity?) through the characters (Clarice/Scully). And then the protagonist/bad guy confrontation in spooky house at the end? And CC and the team are presumably fans considering Mulder’s little joke in The Truth? I don’t know, maybe this is all in my head bc I haven’t seen anyone else say they felt the same, although that may just be my lack of exposure.

    Of course, there was far too much interpersonal drama that felt completely writer inspired as opposed to character driven, although neither our Scully not our Mulder were at their most charming. It would have been lovely if that drama hadn’t been made a focus and they perhaps had a small falling out before Mulder confronting the big bad so Scully could save the day and they could have their reconciliation. Bc my interpretation of that last scene, having watched it again, was not that that was a break up? Maybe a bump in the road but I just don’t believe that after 16 (?) years of being one another’s constant, their touchstone etc that that would be it. And the revival endorses that view I feel? That they broke up due to Mulder’s depression? But so many people view that scene as a break up so I doubt my interpretation/perhaps it’s too optimistic?

    Wonderful review as always Salome ☺️

  15. I thought I commented here already, but I can’t find it, so if I did, sorry, I have some things to add. Since this and FTF are both free On Demand currently, I have watched them both several times in the last week (I do like to see my Mulder & Scully on a full sized TV when I can). The direction of IWTB is well done, or maybe it’s the cinematography, whichever, but the opening scenes with the FBI folks walking the line with those sticks & the juxtaposition of what happened to Monica what’s-her-name is striking. The plot is a hot mess & it feels that even the actors themselves know it, but they do the best with it that they can. Scully is downright annoying. She says at the beginning that she’s worried about the effects of long-term isolation on Mulder, then, later, acts completely oblivious to his happy puppy dog face when he suddenly realizes he can be useful again. The look on his face when he feels he can help is almost joyous, for Mulder, for a brief moment & THEN Scully decides this isn’t such a good idea. She is really rather self-absorbed & self-important through the whole film, though, maybe it’s her turn, Mulder certainly led the team in those traits in the previous years.

    Skinner is the man. I knew as soon as Scully said get me someone with the balls to do it, it would be him. YES!!

    I think Billy Connelly did a great job with this, but I’m kinda’ partial to him, anyway. The Boondock Saints & all…yeah.

    Duchovny has spoken of this & it is glaringly evident when IWTB is watched immediately after FTF – the budget for this movie was completely inadequate if the studio had any intention of really being behind this film & releasing it during summer blockbuster season. 20th Century Fox fools no one, it looks as if they had nothing else to go with at the time (& b/c of the writers strike, maybe they didn’t) do they finally green-lit this, but gave it a crappy budget, thus forcing the writers to do God knows what with any other ideas they may have had & had to go with this one. And, once Duchovny’s salary was agreed upon, they’re probably lucky they could afford more than one camera for use. 😉 20th Century Fox showed very little respect to the fans in this regard. The powers that be up there seemed to think they could give us mediocre & we wouldn’t notice.

    The bedroom scene, as we have all agreed, is precious & sweet & once again Mulder being a doll & so supportive. Only for Scully to then get all tight and grumpy on him again when he demonstrates enthusiasm. My other favorite scene, though….oh, the end, outside the house. Oh, that kiss…damn the man knows how to give the perfect gentle kiss. That scene makes my knees go weak. I can almost tolerate a hot mess of a plot & all the other nonsense this movie suffers from for that scene alone. Oh, that perfect, perfect kiss. I feel like Miss Scarlett with the vapors…I need to fan myself now. Or, as Scully may, or may not have, said it in Bad Blood, “Hoo boy!”.

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