Review: “The X-Files: Fight the Future”

As the haunting whistle tune opens the film’s credits against a viscous black liquid background, one sees straight away that “The X-Files: Fight the Future” is one of the few examples where the story and characters work just as well on the big screen as the small.

Does it live up to the extremely high expectations of devout fans? No, most could name ten episodes of the series which easily surpass it, but more than that would be a difficult task as it is still a great X-file in itself. The script is slick and solid, the directing in tone with the series yet still going beyond its normal boundaries, and the cast superb as usual.

The plot however is a bit confusing to follow and changes gears quickly, sort of like “Mission: Impossible” – you have to keep watching with full attention for the entire time to realise what is going on. Being a fan of the show definitely helps as you understand who the characters are and the well-established plot devices like the ‘black cancer’.

If you’re not, writer Chris Carter tries working in enough clues and hints so that newbies can understand, though there are still somethings they’ll be confused as hell over. The FX are superb, used to enhance the story rather than being the focus on it (learn “Godzilla”), and it was good to see the return of a bit of old fashioned ‘jump-out-of-seat in shock’ scenes which have increasingly vanished since the TV show’s second season.

Complaints? Well while the opening twenty minutes and the last hour are rock solid, the 40 minutes in between does drag at times as the clues are thrown about a bit too slowly. Both the humour and Mulder-Scully relationship scenes at first seem forced and don’t work, but the actors quickly settle into adapting their roles for the big screen and things flow much more naturally almost right away (there is a hallway scene with Mulder breaking down which shows M/S chemistry at its most emotionally powerful).

Some seem to have not found the film ‘epic enough’, though personally I can’t see what they’re complaining about as it feels quite vast in nature. Martin Landau (Dr. Kurtzweil) does a good job in his supporting role as a ‘conspiracy writer’, Stahl (Conrad Sturghold) is on-screen so little we hardly even know his character, Davis (Cigarette-Smoking man) is always superb though he could’ve had a bigger part, and Neville (Well-Manicured Man) once again steals the show as the best baddie of the evil conspirators group.

This is one film where you actually might feel a little letdown leaving the cinema, but within half an hour (after your brain has had time to really process what you saw) you’ll love it. The phrase “it answers questions but poses more” rings very true, and it’ll be great to see how they wrap up the details next season. In summary, a great start to what one hopes will be a solid movie franchise. Congratulations Carter, you scored well here.