The X Files Review

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by Casimir Harlow Jan 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM

    The X Files Review
    Over fifteen years ago the phenomena that is the X-Files was born, following on from classic shows like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone and The Invaders, bringing paranormal investigation to a new generation and ushering in a fresh breed of cult followers. The adventures of dogmatic, eccentric, conspiracy theorists Fox 'Spooky' Mulder and his ever-loyal partner, the sceptical, logical 'Vulcan' of the team, Dana Scully, marked compulsive viewing for many years. At the seasons went on, the conspiracies grew grander, the story arcs more convoluted, and the show effectively split into standard one-off mysteries and tales which, to a lesser or greater extent, added to the so-called Mythology storyline, arguably the biggest conspiracy of it all - involving black oil, warring alien races, shape-shifters, Government alliances, rebel aliens, alien experimentation, the whole nine yards. We got a solid first five seasons, the last of which culminated in the disbanding of the X-Files itself, and led to the (somewhat unusual) release of the first theatrical movie, designed to bridge the gap between the fifth and sixth years, and potentially pull in a bunch of new followers. Although, with hindsight, things appeared to go downhill afterwards, this was still a bold and pretty successful move, and one which most fans (and arguably many newcomers) were quite satisfied with.

    With the X-Files division disbanded, the dynamic FBI duo are reassigned to more regular casework, and currently responding to a bomb threat. What they soon discover is a bigger conspiracy (what else?) that potentially threatens the whole world - the Fight the Future tagline a reference to Mulder's one man trying to fight the future that the Government have secretly planned: i.e. an alliance with an invading alien race. Throw in a couple of shady deep-throats, plenty of cigarettes for cigarette-smoking-man to drag on, a bee-transmitted virus, human impregnation, cover-ups aplenty and even a giant flying saucer and what you have is X-Files Mythology taken to the max, and brought to you in Big-Screen Hollywood style. And, you know what? It works pretty well. Sure, it potentially raises more questions than it answers, and certainly made me wonder where they would go from here (the reality was, slowly downhill), but at the time it was the pinnacle of grand X-Files entertainment.

    As Mulder and Scully, Duchovny and Anderson had also hit their prime (although their recent return to the roles certainly proves that they still know these characters inside out), the former entertaining as ever reeling out conspiratorial ramblings, the strikingly redheaded latter seemingly as sceptical as she ever was, ever questioning her whole involvement in the partnership. They did well to captivate on the big screen, bringing us some compelling moments - both in smaller intimate scenes, and the grander, more life-and-death set-pieces. Aside from the usual suspects from the TV show (Mitch Pileggi's reliable Assistant Director Skinner, William B. Davis' Smoking Man, the Lone Gunmen etc.) we get a few new faces to round out the cast, from cameos for Lost's Terry O'Quinn and Shine's Armin Mueller-Stahl, to a larger deep-throat part for the ever-reliable 'old-skool' Mission Impossible star Martin Landau.

    Unlike its successor, the first X-Files movie was definitely X-Files-goes-to-Hollywood, a grand affair, with massive set-pieces and effects sequences, a confusing, overbearing, conspiracy-to-end-all-conspiracies plot and enough entertainment value to keep you gripped throughout. A whole different animal to any of the episodes, and even the decade-later sequel, it succeeded in bringing the show to the screen but arguably ushered in its slow demise, as nothing could really top this grand spectacle (which is perhaps why the sequel returned the Agents to their roots and focussed more on their character development). Popular and punchy, it comes recommended to fans and newcomers alike.

    The Rundown

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