Based on the terrible box office for the first weekend of "The X-Files: I Want To Believe", a lot of people have apparently lost the faith.
An FBI Agent is missing and ASAC Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and her colleague Special Agent Mosley Drummy (Xzibit) have turned to a defrocked former priest Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly) for help. Father Joe claims to have visions and these visions prove pretty accurate in helping with the investigation, but doubt is quickly cast on the convicted pedophile. But they still need help, so Drummy approaches Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) at the Catholic hospital where she works in pediatrics. They would like to find former agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and get his help; if he is able to assist, "all will be forgotten". Scully doesn't know where Fox is, as they don't work together anymore. That evening, she returns home and tells Mulder about the offer; Mulder has been living with Scully, secretly, off the grid for some time. Mulder is intrigued and agrees to help, but only if Scully will join them. But Scully is dealing with issues of her own and trying to decide whether she should do an experimental surgery on one of her patients; it might save the young boy's life but it could also cause him a lot of pain. In the end, they decide to help and Mulder becomes intrigued by the former priest's visions. Father Joe hopes that if he helps with this, God will look favorably upon him and forgive him his former sins. Then more young ladies begin to disappear and the hunt intensifies. Will they be able to unravel the mystery and find the missing agent?
Written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz and directed by Carter, "I Want To Believe" is a very watch able film. It isn't the best film I have ever seen, but it is well made, to an extent, and will provide some suspense.
I was a huge fan of the television series and watched the show avidly for the first five seasons. Then, I began to lose interest. Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the series knows that the majority of the shows dealt with Mulder's preoccupation with UFOs and his feelings that his sister had been abducted. Many cases often started out as something completely unconnected and then a connection was established. And occasionally, Carter and Spotnitz would throw in a 'stand-alone' story. "I Want To Believe" is a stand-alone story. While I believe this is a smart move, it may also be the factor keeping many of the die-hard fans away.
It has been a number of years since the show ended and even longer since the last film. So to create a film picking up where the series left off would not be a great idea. Too much time has passed and any of those conspiracy theories Mulder often obsessed on would have to be reestablished, especially for the people who were not familiar with the series. For this reason, there is only the briefest mention of Mulder's sister and it doesn't have a connection to the story of this film.
But this is probably the only reason a large core of the fan base would come to this new X-Files film; to see Mulder and Scully pick up where they left off. Because this isn't the case, I suspect the fanbase is staying away in droves. Or perhaps, they are just more interested in newer obsessions like "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man".
David Duchovny is one of those actors who lucks upon a role tailor made for their personality and skill as an actor. The role made Duchovny a star and he has had little success with his film career since. Duchovny is not a great actor and his lack of emotional range fits well with the obsessed, less emotional Fox Mulder. It is difficult now to imagine any other actor playing the role because it has become so associated with the actor, but Duchovny's lack of success with any film since shows the limited skill of the actor.
In "I Want to Believe", Duchovny and Carter loosen up Mulder a bit. He is a little softer, a little bit more jokey and still as obsessed as ever with all of the conspiracy theories, combing through newspapers and cutting out stories to hang on the walls of his office. It is also nice to see that he and Scully have hooked up and are sharing a life together. I guess after so long as professional partners together, it is difficult for them to stop addressing each other as "Mulder" and "Scully" now that they are lovers, but at least they have made that next step.
Gillian Anderson has always been the better actor and in "I Want To Believe" she continues to outshine. She also has her own separate story in the film, how she is going to handle the dilemma of her young patient. So, the case of the missing FBI agent comes as a distraction and she only gets involved because Mulder asks her for her help. Throughout, she is also extremely reticent to believe anything Father Joe says. HHHe is an affront to her on two different levels; as a pedophile, he has victimized children and gone against his beliefs and the doctrine of his church. Both of these points are driven home by the fact Scully works as a pediatrician at a Catholic Hospital.
Amanda Peet plays Special Agent in Charge Dakota Whitney. When Mulder and Scully first meet her, she appears to be tough as nails and capable to lead the investigation. She was, in fact, the person who initiated contact with Mulder, believing he might be able to help. So she seems very capable, very tough. But as soon as Mulder enters the picture, she begins following him around like a little puppy dog. "Really? What do you think we should do next?" It almost appears as though Whitney idolizes Mulder and this sudden shift is problematic for her character. It also moves her into the background and makes her character superfluous.
Come to think of it, why does she initiate contact with Mulder in the first place? The only unusual aspect of this case is Father Joe and his premonitions. There are no mentions of UFOs, extraterrestrials, etc. So, what are Mulder's qualifications for working on the missing persons case? Because he has worked on them before? Haven't all FBI agents?
And Xzibit joins the case as Agent Drummy. He is stony faced and seems to have little tolerance for Mulder and Scully and Father Joe. He doesn't believe in Father Joe's premonitions, or in Mulder's skills and doesn't believe any of this is going to help their case.
Oh, wait. I get it. Whitey and Drummy are pretty much the same characters as Mulder and Scully, but their genders have switched. And they aren't as interesting. Whitney, the female agent "believes" and Drummy, the male agent, is skeptical. Subtle, Mr. Carter.
One of the reasons to make a big screen adaptation of a television series, beyond trying to extend the story and the franchise, is to take on a bigger story, something you are unable to do within the financial and time constraints of a television series. "Believe" takes place primarily in Virginia during the winter, making it easy for them to film in British Columbia. But it doesn't feel bigger than the TV show, except in length.
The mystery involving the missing agent and other missing women in the area becomes interesting and involving, but it ultimately begs the question, what do they want to believe it? It doesn't connect to the main conspiracy theories so prevalent in the story and doesn't really seem to cause Mulder to question anything except whether he should become involved with the FBI again.
And you must answer the question "Should you become involved with "The X-Files" again?" That is a personal question that only you (and all of the aliens who have been probing you for years) can answer.