Wanted to believe, now I wanna be leavin’

Mulder and Scully are back … which might be the film’s biggest mystery

MUG SHOT<br>We’re not paranormal agents, but we played them on TV.

We’re not paranormal agents, but we played them on TV.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Starring Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny and Amanda Peet. Directed by Chris Carter. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

I wanted to believe.

While I generally enjoyed the TV series, I wasn’t all that big a fan while it was running. Still, it was the only thing that kept me tenuously connected to the television—that is until Mulder got spirited off by a UFO. But still, I wanted to believe that in the six years since the last X-Files movie, creator Chris Carter might have come up with some interesting ideas as to what to do with the Mulder and Scully characters.

As usual, my delusions were shattered. In the interim since the end of the colossally silly final episode and this weekend’s debut of the colossally underwhelming return to the trough, apparently Carter not only failed to come up with any new ideas, but he also forgot the basic tenets of writing a cohesive script. One aspect being that while ambiguity is to be expected in the X-Files universe, faith only goes so far before one shrugs and mutters, “WTF?”

There’s a whole lot of WTFing going on in this tired episode expanded into a whole movie. We pick up with Dr. Scully (Gillian Anderson), interrupted by the FBI during a crusade to save some poor, heroic kid from dying of a brain disease. They want her to pass on to the fugitive Mulder (David Duchovny) that all is forgiven if he returns to help track down a missing agent.

They need Spooky ‘cause their only lead is the ramblings of a pedophile ex-priest, and Spooky is the only person that’ll put faith in the dude’s psychic visions. Or something like that … it’s not clear just why they need Mulder to come back just to stand around and look perplexed. Because that’s about all he does. Meanwhile, Scully darts off occasionally to wander about through the subplot about the dying kid, which only serves as an opportunity to pound the pulpit for stem-cell research and to bag on the church at any given opportunity.

Even to the final shot there were a lot of things going on that I wasn’t clear about. I never had a solid grasp on the nature of Scully and Mulder’s current relationship. A big shift in the long-standing sexual-tension dynamic is dropped into the audience’s lap without even a whatfor. Maybe I missed something by not watching the last two seasons. But I woulda thought that I might have picked up on that shift in the paradigm just through pop-cultural osmosis.

I also got a chuckle out of Dr. Scully (introduced at the film’s beginning with a big monologue spilling medical techno-garble to a crowd of doubting Thomases) later jumping into some important research by Googling “stem cell research.” It was funny enough, but then she gets some seriously random bit of info out of that (I didn’t know Weekly World News was archived) to get the narrative moving to where it needed to go.

And as the narrative stumbled toward some vague destination, all I wanted to be doing at that point was to be leaving the theater.