Film: 'The X-Files: I Want To Believe'; Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Xzibit, Billy Connolly; Director: Chris Carter; Rating: ***
A challenge for any filmmaker to translate a popular TV series onto the big screen is fraught with danger. There is the need to satisfy hard core fans of the show and to lure the not so familiar film goers.
"The X-Files: I want To Believe" does away with some of the aspects of the TV show that might have satisfied the more serious fans and goes for a more streamlined straight-forward thriller.
Gone are the sometimes far-fetched notions of alien abductions and sinister government cover-up plots. Instead, we have a story centring around bad guys engaged in nasty illegal human organ experimentation and trade.
The TV show was popular in the 90s and even then its fan base was split. Most casual fans preferred the straightforward, not too paranormal stories that were truly griping. The movie actually seems to want to get as far away from the show as possible. None of the supporting characters from the show appear in the movie. Even the central tenet of having a male-female pairing, which is not romantic, has been changed.
At times there are extended shots of helicopters, cars driving in the snow and crime scene investigation that linger just a little bit too long. But the principal actors David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson along with the director Chris Carter do a commendable job in creating a taunt thriller that dares to ask more philosophical questions of faith. Even the complexities of commitment in a relationship are maturely handled.
Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) are now a couple living together and have new lives. Mulder is still bitter with his former employer, the FBI, and Scully has now become a doctor at a Catholic hospital.
Scully encourages to Mulder to return to the FBI to help in the case of a missing female agent. He takes on the case, but it soon causes a strain in their relationship as Scully battles some internal questions at her work while trying to support Mulder with the case.
The script tries to tell a simple story well. The supporting actors Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly and rapper Xzibit all fill in their roles well. Connolly does a commendable job as a former paedophile Catholic father trying to redeem himself by helping out in the case through the visions he has of the victims.
The story develops at a good pace. The evil and dangers of human experimentation depicted are scary and gripping. But in the real world where the main threats seem to be terrorism and now the financial crisis, a plot revolving around illegal human organ trade might seem a bit distant and low impact.
The movie may not be good enough to draw the reluctant viewers to the theatres. This also might be the last 'X-Files' movie made before the interest from fans in completely drained.
But for those looking for a good thriller with some decent exploration of human relationships, this movie is worth the watch.