Sunday, July 27, 2008


My parents moved up their visit by five days so things have been crazy. Suze and I spent an entire evening on the phone with Dad trying to make travel arrangements to New York for their Italian guests. We then had to step up our house-cleaning efforts and on top of that, I have to work today (Sunday.)

In between all that (and looking longingly at my unoccupied drawing board) we managed to squeeze in a very late night viewing of the new X-FILES movie. Suzanne and I are rabid fans of the TV show and couldn’t wait. I have to say I was a little disappointed. We both knew going in that the movie was going to be a standalone story and having nothing to do with the “mythology” of the original series. That suited me fine because I always loved the monster of the week episodes. But that was no excuse for the the scale of the story to be so small. It just didn’t feel like there was much at stake. Still, it was great seeing Mulder and Scully at it again though I would have liked to have seen more of the characters from the series popping up. I keep forgetting they killed most of them off at the end of the series. The fate of the Lone Gunmen still rankles.

One major (to me) quibble is that quite a bit of the story takes place in our hometown of Richmond. This was a common occurrence in the series due to Richmond’s proximity to FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. That’s fine. But there was no location shooting done here and no effort was made to make British Columbia look remotely like Richmond. In one chase scene, a multitude of taxicabs can be seen cruising the streets well after dark in heavy traffic and there is a construction crew working on a building. In Richmond, they roll the sidewalks up around 9:00 and there most certainly isn’t any construction work going on after 5:30. Worst of all, scenes taking place in the surrounding area show foot-deep snow and deep lakes frozen solid. I can’t tell you the last time that happened in this neck of the woods. Winters are very mild and have been for at least a decade. If we’re lucky enough to get snow down here at all in the winter, it usually melts within days if not hours. It very rarely gets cold enough to freeze a lake all the way to the bottom. All of this would be forgivable if I didn’t know that one of the producers...I believe it’s Frank from Richmond!

On the plus side, there were some nice character moments and there were little wink-wink moments for the fans. Nothing distracting, just very satisfying. (For instance, pay attention to the contact names on Mulder’s cell phone.) There are also some pretty tense scenes and some nastily horrific moments. I won’t reveal anything in case you haven’t seen it. Chris Carter does an admirable job in his feature film directing debut. Apparently the budget was relatively tiny ($30 million) and he really did put it all up there on the screen. Production values were high and Carter really does have some flair with a camera. I just wish the story was a little more engaging. The X-FILES deserves something a little more...epic.

Hopefully, this will do well enough to justify a third movie. I’d love to see Darin Morgan come back and contribute. If they can’t do epic, Morgan’s brand of humor would be a nice alternative. His episodes were always the highlight of the series, lightening the mood just at the right times. Maybe Carter’s gotten it out of his system and can allow himself turn the reins over to someone else. I’m not going to hold my breath, though. Releasing this movie in the summer, a week after THE DARK KNIGHT was about the most foolish thing they could have done. This is the biggest summer movie season in a long time and that movie is going to be a juggernaut. It’s already reached $300 million in ten days, which is a record, and shows no signs of slowing. X-FILES, I suspect, would have done much better in the holiday season.


Heywood Jablomie said...

I'd like to see the movie. I, like an ass, have just started to watch the show. I don't recall why but I never watched it when it was on. Maybe cuz I never saw the first 2 seasons and I HATE to watch a show without at least seeing the first season. But man the show is awesome so far, and gotta love the early 90's tv flair to it as well. I also LOVE Billy Connolly no matter the quality of whatever he's in.

Heywood Jablomie said...
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Christian D. Leaf said...
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Christian D. Leaf said...

I was wondering if you were gonna peep this. I was toying with the idea, but haven't read many good reviews. Probably wait for Netflix. The Richmond stuff sounds bootleg as hell. It's cheap to film here, but I guess they really needed the snow, which ain't so cheap here.

Yeah, the Lone Gunmen got punked in the series.

PJ said...

It was the first movie I’ve seen in a theater in a long time and I have to say that it was one of the best I have seen in a long time as well.

I’ve been a big fan of the series for a long time and I thought it was great. It’s way better than the first movie!

The aerial shot at the beginning with the line of agents was just beautifully done. There was another shot that stuck out when they went to a crime scene and got out of the vehicles, shot from behind the vehicles, I just loved how it was composed.

I think Carter is in one of those unwinnable situations; he has to make a movie that will still appeal to the person who isn’t familiar with the series and at the same time appease longtime fans like myself. I can’t say how it played to people who didn’t know the characters but, I loved all the little nods that were sprinkled throughout and didn’t impede the story in any way (pencils in the ceiling).

Connolly was terrific, and Amanda Peet playing against type was very good! It was such a delight all the way around, seeing those actors slip back into those familiar roles as if no time had passed, the camera work itself which I thought was simply amazing and also the strong subtext about faith.

Nothing betrayed where the characters had been left off with the series finale.

I too was disappointed Chris Carter took a scorched earth approach as the series wound down killing off many of the great creations bought to life over the series run but, this is a genuinely good movie.

I agree in thinking that they erred in releasing it during a crowded summer movie season. I saw it in Times Square on a Sunday afternoon show (a rainy Sunday at that) and the theater was virtually empty. Too bad too, because I enjoyed the film quite a bit and hope they do another.

Warren said...

I was a fan of the series, but I felt like it sort of fizzled the last couple of seasons. I never felt like Mulder and Scully should be anything more than close friends and partners. The fate of Mulder's sister was such a disappointment, and her disappearance was the thread that tied the series' seasons together.

And the Lone Gunmen... yeah.

Sounds harsh, I know. But the X-Files was a great show for the first several seasons; to have it end the way it did was just sad.

I'll probably wait for this movie to come to cable before I watch it.