Throughout the 1990's a TV series about two FBI agents exploring mysteries with no apparent Earthly explanation became a worldwide hit. There was a movie based on the show in 1998 and now, finally, 10 years later, a sequel brings the characters back to the big screen to solve a new mystery. Alan Silverman has this look at The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
The truth is out there. Way out there. A series of kidnap-murders has the FBI stumped. When a defrocked priest claims to have visions that yield valuable clues, the lead agent reaches out to a pair of former colleagues who had specialized in just such strange cases.
Former agent Fox Mulder is always ready to accept the unexplainable; Dana Scully is a medical doctor and wants scientific proof. When their X-Files cases were sealed away, buried by the bureaucracy, they left the FBI. Now they are reluctantly back on a case together and old issues come rushing back.
Little tidbits like mention of Mulder's sister (he believed she was abducted by aliens from another planet) are instantly recognizable to fans of the TV show.
"It was the drumbeat of the hard-core fans over these years that really promoted, prompted and (gave us the incentive) to make this movie," says Chris Carter, creator of the series. He is co-writer and director of the new film. He says those fans made I Want To Believe possible, but he also hopes it attracts a new generation not old enough to remember the TV mysteries. So Carter says the film had stand on its own.
"The truth is with The X-Files, if you look at the stories we told in 202 episodes, 80 percent of them are stand-alone stories," Carter says. "They are not mythology stories or conspiracy stories or Mulder's search for his sister. They are stories that can stand on their own. As long as you can understand who Mulder and Scully are - two FBI agents investigating cases of the supernatural or the paranormal; one's a skeptic and one's a believer - you understand it. So we knew we had to re-establish those characters for a new viewer and a casual viewer, but not for the diehard viewer. We did not want to abuse them with the re-introduction of the characters."
"I think the characters were drawn as complementary of one another so they kind of fit very well like puzzle pieces and became another entity," says actor David Duchovny. He says he is pleased to bring back the Fox Mulder character and his intricate relationship with Dana Scully.
"When you think about the kinds of movies you could compare our movie to, you'd say it's a thriller ...kind of a horror movie or an intellectual caper - whatever," Duchovny says, "but at the heart of it is this relationship between Mulder and Scully which is like a real adult relationship: two people trying to figure out their relationship while they are doing their job, which just happens to be a very heightened reality of a job. While this horrifying or interesting or thrilling stuff is going on, you've got these two people not quite bickering, but trying to figure out where they are ...which I think is a potent combination."
Gillian Anderson returns as Scully and says she appreciates how the film portrays the often-fiery interactions with Duchovny's Mulder.
"I was surprised by the relationship and how much a part of the mood of the whole film the relationship is," Anderson says. "Somehow it is there, almost another presence, and it's set up very early in the film. You get to witness very early on the weight of the history, in a sense, and I feel like the script and also the film itself carries that with it and it is tangible. I like that."
The X-Files: I Want To Believe co-stars Scottish actor Billy Connolly as the visionary priest Father Joe. Amanda Peet plays the FBI agent who brings Scully and Mulder into her investigation; and Alvin Joiner, known by his rap music moniker 'Xzibit,' plays another agent skeptical of the supernatural. The screenplay is by director Chris Carter and longtime writing partner Frank Spotnitz. The musical score is by Mark Snow who also composed for the original TV series.