Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

There are certain things we S&M'ers (Scully and Mulder, focusing on their relationship, AKA "shippers") insist on in any possible permutation of the X-Files. Mulder, who wants to believe. Scully, whose science base makes her the eternal skeptic. A certain look about it, usually with snow. Backlighting. Weird people in weird stories. And one of the best-written relationships about people who should never be together because they’re just so different.

We do get all this and more in X-F2, much of which was lacking in the first movie. And we get the little in-jokes. There were only four of us in the theatre, but we laughed as one at certain times, like when Mulder asks for the flashlight. When he makes a wisecrack. We’re always laughing at Mulder, but never at Scully. Because we feel her pain.

Gillian Anderson is such a quiet actress. It’s all there, though, on her face, in her pauses. I used to say “underrated,” but when she was nominated for several Emmys for her work in the X-Files, even she was surprised, and people took notice. She’s excellent. And Duchovny is close behind.

The story concerns a psychic who leads the FBI, headed by Amanda Peet in a strong role as the senior FBI agent in charge, to several clues hopefully leading to a missing FBI agent. The psychic has his own questionable past, however, and represents a package that Mulder leans toward and Scully away. It’s a great focal point for their differences, and the question remaining in the film is whether we will see their differences split them apart forever, forever from each other and from solving this latest of cases.

Do you have to be familiar with Chris Carter’s X-Files series to understand what’s going on? Well,, no, but a bit of background would certainly help. When we see a surprise visitor at the end of the film, knowing where he fits in the chronology of Scully & Mulder would certainly fill in the blanks. However, it should be said that too much would hinder. Scully & Mulder went too far in their own canon, too far adrift as Duchovny was preparing to leave the series. Too many murdered relatives also fogs comprehension. Who needs all that angst?

The only criticism I have of the film is that it is much too dark. First Mulder’s and then Scully’s curmudgeonly skepticism becomes a real downer. A little humor, more banter, between the two would be much appreciated.

Still, at the end of it all, we’re left with a relationship that saw its ending in the series, resurrected now in this second movie. It would have been easier if we could’ve fallen into the circumstances of the film after, say, the third season. Gillian and David, however, aren’t playing it that way, and all that damage that collected under the bridge isn’t enough to sustain the current couple. However, we’re still there, watching.

Because, after all, we want to believe.

Thumb’s up.

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