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IN SHORT: The Answer is a Question. The Truth is a Lie.
Sorry. I couldn't resist.
Steven Spielberg lied to us. Aliens are not our friends. Neither are the Men in Black (suits) who conspire with unknown entities to bring Armageddon and the establishment of a new Alien colony on our Planet. Maybe. Maybe not. There's a FBI Agent named Fox "Spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny), ridiculed by his fellow agents for belief in the extraterrestrial. There's another Agent named Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who has spent the last five years as Mulder's partner, scientifically debunking his theories. The Bureau disbanded their "X-Files" division, and the two now work a bomb sniffing unit down in Dallas.
See? It's simple. All you need to know about five years of The X-Files television show is wrapped up in a drunken monolog delivered by Mulder to bartender (and X-Phile) Glenne Headley, just before a mysterious man points him in the Right Direction to the Ultimate Proof of Alien Existence and Conspiracy at the Highest Levels of Government. For those of us who don't watch the show, the monolog is background. For those that do, and Cranky sat in a house loaded with them, it is an extremely funny compilation of in-jokes. One of many.
There are Star Trekkers and there are X-Philes and it matters not what Cranky says to the latter. You've all been chomping at the bit for the X-Files movie, based on the television show, for months. You will not be disappointed. But you are concerned about whether this flick will draw non-fans into the theaters and into the X-Universe. That's what you told me. The answer is a qualified "yes." If the non-watchers can ignore all the paranoia and conspiratorial nonsense, enjoying just the necessary story points, The X-Files is a visually captivating, absolute bell ringer of a mystery. It is an attention getter from the word go.
From prehistoric snow caves to modern suburban developments in Northern Texas, The X-Files is a tale of alien invasion, investigative paranoia and, ultimately, camaraderie and friendship. In Texas, something black and oily is discovered, but it isn't black gold. The goo infects and destroys human flesh, turning it into jelly and incubating an alien life form. These aliens have high powered, very rich and very secretive human allies whose ultimate allegiance is not made clear. Even the X-Philes in the audience weren't sure which side these rich, white guys are on.
Which brings us back to FBI agents Scully and Mulder. As this story begins, the pair find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time as a terrorist action takes out an office building in Dallas. While the official investigation led by FBI Assistant Director Jana Cassidy (Blythe Danner) points the finger of blame back at our heroes, an alleged colleague of Mulder's father named Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) points the team Deep Throat-like towards a conspiracy at the highest levels of government. Before you know it, alien viruses, killer bees, unmarked tanker trailers, and black helicopters parade across the screen. Each step taken by Mulder is monitored by a Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) who is part of the Conspiracy led by Conrad Strughold (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and a Well-Manicured Man (John Neville).
The challenge when a television show moves from the small screen to the big screen is to be something that the television show cannot be. There are glitches in this transition. Three geeks (apparently called the Lone Gunmen) mysteriously appear and disappear, to great audience applause, and free Mulder from an enforced hospitalization. Please do not e-mail me with their identities, I don't care. They are television characters who do not fit in an otherwise independent and engaging feature story. Cranky could quibble with other, tiny bits and pieces of background detail, but that would be petty.
The X-Files fills our field of vision with spectacular visuals, cool effects, big explosions and a bigger story than a television budget could support. Production designer Christopher Nowak deserves a special nod because the visual design is gorgeous. Director Rob Bowen keeps the tension high and paces the story, by creator Chris Carter with Frank Spotnitz, well. The mystery is mysterious. The violence is scary and, though this movie is not made in the mold of a Hitchcock classic, its net result is right up there with the best of the Fat Man's work. The main characters face danger and personal disaster, all of which come out of nowhere. You will not want to leave your seat.
The X-Files story wraps all around the world: Dallas to DC to London to the Antarctic and a Tunisian town named Tataouine. [Speak the word, mispronounce it just a little, get the tribute. It's just one of many, mostly visual, nods to classic SF and Thriller flicks of the past. Cranky's basic list of film bits he noticed include Empire Strikes Back, Alien, North By Northwest, Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.]
Finally, TV fans have waited five years, while Scully and Mulder do their weekly little dance. On the big screen they finally have the ability to expand the flirtation and take their relationship to the next level. You X-Philes all know that's what you want. You all hooted and hollered and shook the theater walls when you saw it coming.
Unless I'm lying. Maybe nothing happens at all.
Cranky could really get into this misdirection shtick. Heh heh heh . . .
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The X-Files: Fight The Future, he would have paid . . .
X-Files held steady at $7 until about three
quarters of the way through, when it began to lag. Then again, what the
hell do I know? The X-Philes among you will kick it up to the perfect
$8, 'cuz you're gonna see it again and again. You know you are. For the
rest of us, a beautifully produced, visually sumptuous, and totally engrossing
mystery is the sum total of The X-Files: Fight the Future. This
ignorant geek recommends it.
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