(Rob Bowman, US, 1998)
It's a cliché, but as sure as night follows day, you just knew that after the massive success of the TV series, there just had to be an X Files movie - and this is it. Firmly rooted in that most favourite of X Files subject areas - UFOs and aliens from outer space, the film manages to ease in newcomers to creator Chris Carter's phenomena, whilst delivering enough mythology to satisfy seasoned X Files aficionados. The story takes in terrorist bombings, covert government research facilities, concealed UFOs, alien experiments and yet more sexual flirting between the two leads - Gillian Anderson as Agent Scully and David Duchovny as Mulder. However, much like the hormonal jousting the various plot threads ultimately fail to deliver the goods.
Certainly the production values are polished but then so are those on the television series. It's hard to believe the $60 million figure put on the budget; aside from a number of nifty CGIs and optical effects, if I were the producer I'd be pissed I hadn't gotten more for my money. The performances are okay if a little too knowingly on occasion saying "hey look, we're in a real-life X Files movie!" and director Bowman turns events around in an occasionally thrilling but generally perfunctory manner. The biggest weakness lies in the structure of the script. One can visualise Carter and the production team saying "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we had Mulder and Scully do this...and wouldn't it be cool if we had them do that...". As a result the finished article is something of a hotchpotch of self-contained ideas, vignettes and sometimes pointless excursions. The notable structural similarities with the most recent Star Trek Next Generation film, Resurrection, show that some television directors simply cannot shake off the constraints of working in that environment (incidentally, Bowman has directed episodes on both the X Files and STNG TV shows). I'm not suggesting their work is below par, it's just that there is something almost tangibly lacking when the transfer to the silver screen occurs. Having said all that, I'm sure studio heads at Fox were happy with the result as were most existing X Files fans. But for those less enamoured with the TV show, taken on its individual merits as a 'motion picture', The X Files could have been a whole lot better.