Film: The X-Files

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Film:

The X-Files: Fight the Future

Director: Rob Bowman
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

The definitive American television series of the ‘90s comes to the big screen with an anticlimactic whimper. And how could it be otherwise? Why should material so perfectly realized in one medium necessarily translate well into another? The series is crisply and thoughtfully executed in just about every detail, but the heart of its appeal lies in the elegant handling of complicated and evolving ongoing story lines, which is not something movies are especially good at. The big-screen drive for closure cramps the creative style, though it may also help nonfans get…

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The definitive American television series of the ‘90s comes to the big screen with an anticlimactic whimper. And how could it be otherwise? Why should material so perfectly realized in one medium necessarily translate well into another? The series is crisply and thoughtfully executed in just about every detail, but the heart of its appeal lies in the elegant handling of complicated and evolving ongoing story lines, which is not something movies are especially good at. The big-screen drive for closure cramps the creative style, though it may also help nonfans get a grip on the proceedings. We do get some invigorating thrills and chills, however, and a more satisfying sense of the scale of an all-enveloping human-alien conspiracy than ever before, but there’s no more plot development here than in an average two-part season-ending. FBI black sheep Mulder and Scully have been temporarily transferred from the X-Files project to an anti-terrorist unit to investigate an Oklahoma City-style bombing. They uncover a new wrinkle in the Syndicate/Cancer Man conspiracy—basically an attempt to help one bunch of (benign?) aliens fight off another bunch who want to colonize Earth. A spectacular, ice-bound finale thrillingly staged by series-veteran director Rob Bowman offers Mulder (but not a conveniently unconscious Scully) his first clear look at a You Know What, which in some quarters qualifies as an epochal event. Martin Landau offers the agents some crucial clues, and several familiar TV faces (including the Lone Gunmen and Mitch Pileggi’s indispensable Assistant Director Skinner) turn up briefly to wink knowingly at faithful fans. —David Chute

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