Unbelievably "X"-asperating

July 28, 2008, midnight | By Poorna Natarajan | 15 years, 10 months ago

Jumpy "X-files" movie fails to provide meaningful entertainment

Six years after the TV sci-fi series "X-files" went off air, its second feature film, "X-Files: I Want to Believe," hits the big screen with a ridiculously unattractive title, a self-destructive plot line, amazing actors and lackluster special effects. The first half of the movie is actually compelling, but the movie ends up a thought-boggling mess that leaves the audience wanting to believe that it was not a waste of their money and time.

The movie opens with an aura of intrigue featuring the kidnapping of a female FBI agent in an eerie snowy area between the outskirts of West Virginia. Consequently, the FBI begins a search headed by an eager special agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) and her humorously not-so-eager partner Mosley Drummy (Xzibit).

The plot then switches to the current lives of the once feisty duo Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) who fought paranormal monsters for the FBI in the prequel. Both have gone their separate ways - Scully is a doctor while Mulder is a slovenly hermit who is still obsessed with paranormal events – but are reunited by the FBI as reinforcements for the investigation. Before they know it, Mulder and Scully soon face serial murders, animal tranquilizers, a so-called psychic pedantic Catholic priest, comically frightening Russians and vicious dogs.

The movie morphs into what seems like medley of famous thrillers -"Saw" and "The Exorcist" - with the inclusion of carefully cut body pieces and a possessed priest who cries tears of blood. The movie is short of any spectacular film shots or special effects rather than those of an old-fashioned horror picture like moody dark nights, dull days, and fast paced music at the climatic moments.

Director Chris Carter fails to smartly intermingle the sub-plots that include controversial recent issues such as the stem cell research, sexual scandals in few Catholic Churches and the FBI bureaucracy. While trying to convey several messages, the story fails to address a single point. The weak script only stresses the four words "I want to believe" that the characters trade off for the entire second half of the movie.

Anderson easily slips back into the role of Scully, a no-nonsense skeptic of the paranormal who faces a stressful career of saving a boy with a terminal brain disease. Anderson is able to capture Scully as the cautious killjoy for Mulder who is ready and excited to solve the investigation. Despite an overpoweringly serious script, Duchovny is however able to add a little dark humor to the movie through complete ingenuity. The romance between Scully and Mulder simmers; their explosive chemistry that drove the TV series for nearly a decade sadly expired.

The undeniable focus of the film is Father Joe (Billy Connolly), the priest who claims to have psychic abilities. Without any aid of special effects, Connolly eloquently gives the film its bone-chilling aspect. Connolly does a superb job of delivering uncanny maniacal expressions that embellish Father Joe's paranormal abilities and creepy past activities.

Although the cast altogether performs marvelously, the movie seems like a very confusing lengthy episode of a series. The first half is entertaining enough, but even the strongest faith won't help you in trying to piece the entire story together at the end.

"X-Files: I Want to Believe" (104 minutes) is rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material. Now playing everywhere.

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