The X-Files: I Want to Believe (3/10)

There’s a lot going for Chris Carter’s latest directorial effort, not the least of which is the hotly anticipated reunion of arguably TV’s most sizzling onscreen-couple: Mulder and Scully. Admittedly, it was also a gutsy move of him to place the movie in this superhero summer, where it threatens to become swallowed beneath the combined weight of Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Mr. Heath Ledger himself. But even if Carter’s forgiven for how poorly “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” measures up to the rest of this summer’s fare, and even though David Duchovny and Gillian Andersons share as effortless chemistry as ever, the new X-Files is a dead in the water dud, a steaming pile of spiritual-psycho-babble BS that feels more like an episode of the TV show than an actual movie.

It’s been more than five years since Mulder and Scully’s FBI ship has sailed, and we now find that Scully’s a doctor in the middle of a treatment for a young boy and Mulder spends his days scouring newspapers and magazines for any clippings of unexplained phenomena. Enter the FBI, who hunt down Mulder and Scully because of an unexplained case involving a pedophile priest who may be linked to a series of murders. The catch? He has no connection to the victims whatsoever and finds the bodies through psychic visions.

The main focus of the movie is Mulder’s belief – like the film’s title, he struggles with this case because he wants to believe in the psychic powers of this priest but the evidence isn’t conclusive enough. Wait, didn’t Carter spend nine years exploring this? Mulder and Scully bicker throughout the film like they were back at the FBI ten years ago – arguing back and forth about belief and the supernatural and the possibility of the fantastic. It’s yawn-inducing, and even those episodes of the show that weren’t the best could eclipse this movie easily.

The acting is decent all around – speaking as a long time fan of the series, there’s nothing like seeing these two characters onscreen again, and the jolt that ran through me was almost enough to compensate for how bad the movie was. Almost. Looking back on the movie, there is nothing particularly memorable about it – it could fit in a two-part special on FOX back in the day and no one would have noticed the difference, which will make a lot of fans pretty damn mad at Chris Carter for wasting their time. I know he has me pissed. Really, Chris? You leave for six entire years, you hype up this movie saying it’s going to be a powerful spiritual exploration into Mulder’s beliefs and how they affect who he is, and then you give us this, a relic, a disgrace to one of the best TV shows of all time, that looks like you dug it up from an episode that never aired Perhaps you should have left that episode back where it belonged, instead of letting it land resoundingly anti-climactically in the multiplex. I want to believe, but I just can’t.

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