Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I bloggity blog about a movie I own. We're going back to the pinnacle of 1990s pop culture with the big-screen version of The X-Files. aka "The X-Files Movie." This is in my notes at December 29, 2013.
Continuing the 1990s nostalgia trip! Seeing as to how The Blues Brothers was marked with one of HMV's "2 for $20" price tags, I started looking for something else to get my $20 worth. And over in the sci-fi section, I saw The X-Files movie. Ya know, I think The X-Files movie is officially the last movie I had that I hadn't upgraded to DVD and/or Blu-Ray yet. So I decided to grab it.
A quick reminder, if you've forgotten one of the most beloved TV shows of the 1990s...or if you're one of the throngs that did NOT turn out to the second movie, I Want to Believe, when it came out in 2008, a quick recap. The X-Files followed the exploits of Mulder and Scully, two FBI agents assigned to bureau's "X-Files," case files that have possible...paranormal culprits. So, they'd journey across the USA, investigating mysterious crimes, only to come face-to-face with some manner of psychic, vampire, werewolf, or any other variety of monster-of-the-week. The show's over-reaching mythology had to do with Mulder's sister, who was abducted by aliens when he was a child, and the investigation of his sister's disappearance led to the discovery of a massive conspiracy of high-ranking officials prepping the planet for alien takeover. Mulder's the believer, Scully's the skeptic, and out of its 10 years on TV, we got 7 solid seasons of sci-fi.
(Yeah...the conspiracy got so big and convoluted that it kind of collapsed under its own weight near the end.)
Episodes of The X-Files are generally divided into two types: the monsters-of-the-week, and the mytharcs, that dealt with aliens and the conspiracy. Fun trivia fact: apparently, the show was never intended to have a mytharc, and series creator Chris Carter was quite content with the monster-of-the-week format. But when Gillian Anderson got pregnant in season 2 and needed to be written out of the show for her maternity leave, they did a 3-part episode where she was abducted by aliens, and things just snowballed.
Anyways, the movie is very much a mytharc episode, as the conspirators are the main villains, and a virus of alien origin is the monster-of-the-week. Rather than "the movie," I'm going to start referring to it as Fight the Future. "Fight the Future" was the film's tagline, which was featured prominently in all the film's advertising. So prominent it was that people just started assuming it was the subtitle and started referring to it as such. I remember 20th Century Fox raising a stink about it back in the day, and issuing news releases and stuff saying that film is simply called The X-Files, but they must have relented, because the Blu-Ray cover clearly identifies the film as The X-Files: Fight the Future.
Fight the Future came along during the series' golden age. Filmed during the hiatus between the fourth and fifth seasons, released to theatres in the summer between the fifth and sixth seasons. Picking up after the fifth season cliffhanger, the X-Files unit has been shut down, and we catch up with Mulder and Scully on their new assignment: investigating a bomb threat at a federal building in Dallas. Playing a hunch, Mulder is investigating the building next door to the federal building, where he finds the bomb. The building is evacuated, but the agent in charge (played by Terry O'Quinn, who was in everything Chris Carter did back in the day), stays behind, and rather than defuse the bomb, ensures that it goes off, and destroys the building. It turns out, the building had to be destroyed because it contained evidence of the aliens and the conspiracy.
This theory is brought to Mulder's attention by Dr. Kurtzweil, played by Martin Landau, fresh off his Oscar win for Ed Wood. Landau is kind of the celebrity guest star in this episode, and he fills the Deep Throat/Mr. X/mysterious informant stock character that the show had throughout its run.
Anyway, it turns out that there's been a natural outbreak of the "black ooze" that we saw on the show. (The black ooze was an alien virus that took the form of, well, a black ooze the oozed into your body.) But it turns out the black ooze is more than a virus...it's actually another form of alien life, and it takes the raw material in a person and uses it to grow from a virus into a full grown alien. That's what we know, but it's up to Mulder and Scully to track down evidence of this and continue to prove that the truth is out there.
I remember at the time, when I saw it in theatres in 1998, I was very excited for it. I came out going, "YES! YES! That was no extended episode of the series! THAT WAS A MOVIE!" But, 15 years later now, I can watch it and say, "Yeah...that was just an extended episode of the series." The only part of it that feels cinematic is the climax in Antarctica, and the discovery of the alien fortress. They spent some money on that. But the rest...it just feels like a TV show.
There's no character growth. There's no personal advancement for the characters. Everything's back to the status quo by the end, and our heroes are ready for another adventure. That being said, though, it's a very good episode. It's thrilling when it needs to be, throws in a little bit of fan service here and there (love that gratuitous Lone Gunmen cameo). It's still a good treat for the fans after all these years.
And I'm still a big fan of the music in the movie. The music was done by Mark Snow, who also did the music for the TV show. I think he did a stellar job expanding the themes for the TV series for the film. At least the music sounds like a movie.