These are mostly the reviews reprinted from a newsgroup rec.arts.movies.reviews. There are also few reviews from other sources. The reviews are (or should be) sorted by names (first) of authors. All the reviews are reprinted here with permission of author and none can be reprinted further without permission of the author.
- Author: Dr. V. B. Daniel (e-mail)
- WWW: Dr. Daniel's Movie Emergency
- Rating: in for observation (***)
Okay, here's the deal. There's a big ol' rush nowadays toward anything along the lines of "unexplained phenomena," those weird head-scratchers that just seem to happen for no apparent reason. We get a lot of that stuff here in Carver Point, too, believe it or not. There's a man named Herbert Potterman, lived here 63 years, who always seems to get deathly ill about three days before his wife's people have their family reunion. He can be perfectly fine one day, then, Ethel Ann will remind him about her reunion this coming weekend, and he's in my office the next morning, poor soul. He always gets this mysterious aching in his back and stomach that we can't figure out, but I always have to tell Ethel Ann that Herbert'll need to stay home that weekend 'cause it pains him to travel.
Usually, about Monday of the next week, Herbert's pain fades away, and he's back to normal. And, even more mysterious than that, on the Tuesday of that same week, I find a hundred-dollar bill in my mailbox, taped to a fruit jar full of a clear, slightly oily liquid that has a strong scent of distilled spirits about it. Oh, the oddities of the world....
I guess this new-found interest in the unexplainable could be traced to TV's new darling, the "reality" show, starring aliens and crop circles and haunted houses. But I believe it goes beyond that. I think it can be traced to a conspiracy within television, eminating from the Fox network. These people have secretly hooked a good part of the country on a show called "The X-Files", a show devoted to every unexplained mystery you could think of, and a few I bet you never wanted to think about. A sleek combo of sci-fi and horror, wrapped in the guise of almost-documentary style of filming, it plays us all like violins, pulling on every string we have that loves to be scared, and puzzled, and scared some more. And I love it. I love it to death.
That's why I've been geared up for the new version of the show, this time in theatrical form, known as "The X-Files: Fight The Future." If there ever was a TV show that deserved to be a film, this is it. The show has pushed the limits of TV, and it was only logical that movies be the next output. They had the stars, they had the following, they had the creepy little supporting cast, they had it all. So, when the movie opened, I was there. Planted.
The film stars the Dynamic Duo of the Nineties, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Mulder and Scully, and it literally picks up where the TV show ended its season a few weeks ago, a very interesting twist on the "cliffhanger" theory of TV season-enders. As we pick up, the two are investigating a network of power-brokers (played by John Neville, Martin Landau, and Armin Mueller-Stahl) that are involved in a project concerned with the colonization of the planet by means of alien life forms. The movie pulls all of the tricks it uses on the show, including my favorite semi-villain, the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis). We get other quick hits like the "black oil" aliens and the super-bees. We also get a new, meaner-than-hay-ull bunch of aliens.
I really don't feel comfortable going any further than that, because I'd get into divulging secrets, and, as any fan of the show can tell you, the only thing worse than a secret is a secret revealed.
Let's do this. I liked the movie, and parts of it impressed me, but it never seemed to reach where it was shooting for. It's good, but it's nowhere near what I was expecting. When a show like The X-Files gets the chance to strut its stuff on a big screen, it ought to absolutely take it to the moon. The movie never makes that leap. Oh, there's more gore than we get to see on TV, and there's some profanity stirred in to spice things up, but, to dump this thing into the middle of a summer line-up, everybody was geared up for super action and heart-pounding suspense and some "WHOA!" special effects, and none of that ever really shows up. The movie is bigger in scope than the show, but it's not near better.
At the same time, I almost think that this might have been the plan all along. Build a big hoo-rah for the movie, tease us with talk of a consummation of the romance between Scully and Mulder, spring some new villains on us, bait us for everything, and then leave us hanging until the new TV season starts. If this is the case, that's almost forgivable. But, if this is the best they can do, somebody might want to wash off the blackboard and start over. The "coincidences" we've learned to accept on TV don't play quite as well on a huge screen as they do on a 22-incher at home with the bulbs out. And, I have to admit, I was less than thrilled that Scully and Mulder act so surprised when they discover a conspiracy going on and alien life involvement. Just what have these folks been doing for five years now, bending spoons with their heads and walking on fire? They've stepped into bigger piles of governmental poo-poo on TV and never even blinked, so why be amazed that it's happening again? Deal with it!
"The X-Files: Fight The Future" has a nice look to it, and, if you follow it as a glorified two-hour episode of the show, then, yes, it works fine. But, if the long-range plan is to pull a "Star Trek" with this, and go full-time cinema, Chris Carter and Crew better tighten some screws and do the same thing they did to make the TV show so popular. They're gonna have to quit playing it safe and push the envelope. Pardon the reference, but they will have to go where no movie has gone before.
So, all that said, all you "X-ers" out there, relax. It works. Maybe not as well as you'll want it to, but it works. And, remember, the first "Star Trek" movie stunk, and they're still going. And there's no way Shatner's gonna get a chance to ruin any of these. With Carter in charge of the world, it could only get better, or worse, which always seems more fun in X-World.
"Oh please," I moaned, "I'm a professional journalist. Do you honestly think I'm going to take material I'm paid to write and submit it to 'Ain't It Cool News' under a pseudonym? Writing is not easy and I have no interest in seeing my finished work in giant type on a fan page, attributed to 'Pudding Whistle' or something." The rep was unimpressed by my little tirade and grudgingly, I agreed to their terms.
The reason I've shared this with you is because there's only so much one can say about the actual film without spoiling the fun. A big part of enjoying "The X Files" series comes from trying to figure out the secrets of the show's labyrinthine conspiratorial story arc and the same holds true for the film, so you'll see no spoilers here.
For those who have never followed the show and may feel intimidated by reports of the series' elaborate back-story, you can rest easy. The film, while complex, stands alone and is understandable to newcomers. Hard core fans who worried that the movie would reveal too much can relax as well. While "The X Files" clarifies the series mythology, there are definitely plenty of secrets left.
After an effectively spooky prologue set in 35,000 BC, the film picks up where the show's season finale left off, with the X Files closed and Fox Mulder and Dana Scully working on an FBI terrorism unit in Dallas. An explosion draws the pair back into the thick of the conspiracy, which leads them everywhere from the desert to Antarctica. Along the way, we meet new shadowy characters, witness a significant moment in the droll duo's relationship, and get some dandy scares. Leaving the theater, I felt just satisfied enough and found myself looking forward to the fall, when we'll see where the series leads from this invigorating turn.
"The X Files" plays like an expanded episode of the TV show and that's a good thing. Instead of getting carried away with making an theatrical epic, Chris Carter and company wisely remembered the importance of maintaining the tone of the series. David Duchovny's laconic Mulder and Gillian Anderson's intense Scully are fascinating characters who play as well on the big screen as on the tube.
Continuing the series tradition, the film tosses in humor at unexpected moments. Fans will delight in a scene addressing Mulder's chronic deadpan expression, while event movie producers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich will wince over a hilarious, very pointed dig at one of their films.
A couple of minor gripes. Mitch Pileggi, one of the series' strongest characters, is underused here. And the film's climax, while both scary and exciting, is a bit ragged, with a few plot holes and gaps in internal logic.
The better episodes of the "X Files" series play like abbreviated movies and, quibbles aside, "The X Files" lives up to the high standards set by the show. Is it the best "episode?" No. But it's a good one. "The X Files" moves at a fast clip, sets and maintains a creepy tone and answers just enough questions. There's still a lot of truth left to be revealed, but this entertaining "X Files" does a nice job of whetting our appetites for what's to come.
© 1998 Ed Johnson-Ott
- Author: Harvey S. Karten (e-mail)
Though "The X-Files" has already enjoyed a five-year run on TV where it rose to the number one spot in Canada, there is a place for a yet another version: on the big screen. Given the high-tech accoutrements and the exotic, James-Bond-like locations, the story can exploit its advantages , particularly since "The X-Files: Fight the Future" hops the globe from Washington to Bethesda, from England to Antarctica, from Tunisia to Dallas. The focus of this and all other X-files narratives is on two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). The two agents have (pardon the oxymoron) a platonic chemistry, willing to do anything to continue working together but never developing an intimate relationship. At one point, though, Chris Carter--who created the eminent TV series on September 10, 1993 and who has written the screenplay--puts a romantic spark into the team who are about to kiss (to the disbelieving gasps of the audience) when a busy-bee schedule prompts them to drop this bit of whimsy. Regulars to the series know that the two are distinct opposites in one way: Mulder, having once witnessed the abduction of his sisters by extraterrestrials, believes in supernatural answers to unexplained incidents; Scully, who gave up a medical practice for the more exciting career of special agent, is a strict rationalist who subjects every such occurrence to the demands of science.
The film opens in northern Texas in 35,000 B.C. as a couple of fire-bearing aborigines who don't look at all like Native Americans explore a cave only to find that they have activated a deadly, long-buried force. Since the state did not have capital punishment to threaten criminals at the time, a couple of murders result. Cut to the present- day area in the American southwest and we find a 12-year-old in similar trouble for letting his curiosity run wild in a crevice near his home. When the dead lad mysteriously disappears only to be found later, a victim this time of a terrorist bomb in a Dallas federal building, agents Mulder and Scully pursue the case until they begin messing around with what some agencies of the U.S. government do not want the public to know. Mulder and Scully are caught on the one hand by a bureau's need to use them as scapegoats and on the other by a mysterious cabal of cryptic characters. These individuals include an OB-GYN physician who knows too much (Martin Landau); a classy British dude known throughout the series as The Well-Manicured Man (John Neville); a high-level government investigator, Cassidy (Blythe Danner); and Strughold, (Armin Mueller-Stahl) whose European accent signals us that he must be one of the bad guys.
Turning up regularly at the headquarters of the conspirators gives the agents the opportunity to save each other's lives from time to time, though we wonder how agent Mulder was able to arrange transportation from Washington to the Antarctic given that the FBI wants to stop him. "The X-Files: Fight the Future" has a good deal of humor provided by the conspiracy-fighting partners but does not try to be campy despite the many opportunities for director Rob Bowman to steer the narrative in that direction. The big screen is well-utilized by the special effects people of Amalgamated Dynamics, a company in the business of scaring us by showing the horrific disfigurement that a lowly virus can cause, the effects of fire on cave walls, and a couple of stylized scenes involving the violent murder of good citizens by creatures imprisoned in giant cakes of ice.
According to some high-school kids who are groupies of the five-year-old series, Chris Carter has done everything to keep his plot under wraps until the picture opens, like a Woody Allen or a final-show Seinfeld who uses such secrecy to drum up a larger potential audience. Carter throws a lot of details at us during the two-hour sci-fi fantasy, but his need to set us up for sequels is so strong that nothing is finally resolved. In fact, the audience might be hard-put to figure out what's going on, since editor Stephen Mark's rapid cutting away of Ward Russell's impressive images ends each scene just at the point of explanation. Chris Carter has succeeded so well in keeping the plot under wraps that even after you watch the imposing imagery, you leave the theater wondering who's conspiring against whom for what purpose.
© 1997 Harvey Karten
- Author: Homer Yen (e-mail)
- Rating: B
"The X-Files: Fight the Future" is the first attempt to leverage the appeal of the popular television series onto the big screen. Incorporating elaborate sets, a complex yet intriguing tale that weaves government cover-ups with deadly viruses and aliens, and the familiar presence of two determined FBI agents, the result is a quick-paced, conspiracy-laden movie that is somewhat hokey but enjoyably quirky.
After a supposed act of terrorism that results in incredibly horrific disaster, our two heroes, FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are being pointed at by the finger of blame. As an inquiry into their incompetence begins, Mulder is approached by an eccentric man (Martin Landau) with wild ideas of conspiracies, cover-ups, and a theory as to why the act of terrorism was actually an act of our own government. "The government is secretly negotiating a planned Armageddon," he urges.
Skeptical at first but ultimately open to any idea, as wild as they may be, that would reinforce his personal quest to expose government cover-ups and to get to the truth, Mulder begs a tired and defeated Scully to help him in his pursuit. Meanwhile, someone has been watching their every move and is taking steps to make sure that they never find out the truth.
As a story about conspiracies, it gives us a nice long list of elements that keeps the audience involved while allowing the movie to easily transition from one sequence/location to another. These include: the informant with his personal agenda that periodically gives out questionably reliable information, characters that appear once early on and then re-appear much later as murky warnings to oncoming danger, narrow alleyways and clandestine meetings that provide a backdrop where secrets are learned and business is taken care of, and a smattering of clues that ultimately guides Mulder and Scully toward the truth.
Having watched only two or three episodes of the popular tv series, I can't really comment on whether this is better or worse than the average episode. Virtually every person that has appeared in the series does make a brief appearance. However, they amount to only cameos and don't complicate the main focus of the story. Also, there is a good deal of exposition on the motivations of our two intrepid agents - for example, we learn why Mulder has engaged this personal quest of his and why he is viewed less-than-seriously by his peers. Meanwhile, we hear why Scully was assigned as his partner. These are things that devoted fans already know, so it is for the benefit of people like me. Fans will probably find these sections protracted and boring.
The spirit of the X-Files is geared towards things that are 'not easily categorized or referenced.' As such, the story will raise more questions than reveal answers. For example, what was the motivation behind the government perpetuating an obviously self-destructive course of action? And, if the conspiracy is global in nature, why are there only two lone FBI agents trying to solve the whole thing? Perhaps this is all part of the mythology of the series. Regardless of my lack of viewership and the questions that I had, I thought that overall, the movie worked in delivering a witty string of sequences that melded conspiracy and science-fiction, and I did like the general look and the atmosphere of secrecy that it projected.
To tell of the intricacies of the plot would be to reveal more then anyone should know until they see the film. I can safely say that the film begins with agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) working together in an anti-terrorist unit. The agents have been reassigned to this new unit. Their reassignment and the closing of the X-Files themselves do not stop the global conspiracies involving the invasion of our world by aliens, however. Thus is the setup for the film which pits the two agents in the almost impossible task of exposing the conspiracy which could destroy not only their lives but the lives of everyone on the planet as well.
As a fan of the series, my major fear was that the writers would have to "talk down" to me and the other fans in order to explain things that the casual viewer (or moviegoer) wouldn't know. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the movie was everything the series is and more. The film explains many of the complicated plots that have arisen over the last couple of years, and it does it in such a way as to actually be entertaining to someone who doesn't know anything about the film. The screenplay is brilliant in that it does actually fulfill the impossible promises of the show's creator, Chris Carter, to appease both ardent fan and casual moviegoer. I personally didn't believe it could be done, but, after talking to several others who have seen the film and who are not fans of the weekly series, my suspicions were confirmed and this movie is just plain enjoyable.
I would recommend this film to all fans of the television series as well as sci-fi fans in general. I will even go a step further and recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good drama or suspense film. This film is entirely self contained and can be enjoyed by all. It is rated PG-13, presumably for violence, but today's audience (even the younger ones) aren't likely to notice the violence or the occasional curse word. As always, I recommend parents actually watch the film before allowing younger children to see it (nightmares of alien invasions and scary black goo invading bodies are a real possibility).
- Author: John W. Collins (e-mail)
- Rating: ** out of a possible four
F.B.I. special agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), search for that elusive "truth" each week on the hit television show, "The X-Files." Week after week, millions tune- in to see the two delve into the strange and bizarre cases that the rest of the bureau won't touch. While most of the cases they investigate deal with unusual, and even sometimes supernatural, phenomenon, the "guts" of the series deals with Fox Mulder's search for proof of the existence of aliens, and the mysterious group of men that will stop at nothing to prevent him, or the rest of the world, from finding out "the truth." And now, Mulder and Scully's quest for that "truth" moves to the next level, because...
THE MOVIE IS OUT THERE
Series creator, Chris Carter, director Rob Bowman, and Twentieth Century Fox, have brought the hugely popular television show to the big screen with the release of THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE. It must have been a fairly easy task (although I'm sure they would disagree with me). They already had developed characters, a relationship and history between those characters, a recognizable framework for a story to be woven around, and millions of fans as a built-in audience base. The only real question was whether or not non fans could follow the film and enjoy it. The answer to that question is, "yes" and "no."
The film can be followed and enjoyed as a work standing on its own, but, speaking as a fan, it must be like eating a bowl of banana pudding after all the bananas are gone. You can enjoy the pudding part, but you are kind of missing the whole point. Carter, who wrote the screenplay, tries to let the uninitiated in on the fun with bits of "background information" sprinkled throughout the dialogue, but that really isn't enough. There are several situations throughout the film that cannot be fully understood unless you are a fan. The same is true with a handful of characters that pop up. Unless you have watched the show, you will not know who they are, or what they are doing there.
It may have been better to have had a script that dealt with a basic "X-Files" story, instead of the series mythos. That would have pleased the fans, and allowed X-Files "newbies" to get to know the characters, and get a "feel" for the show.
Instead, the film opens where the season finale left off, to a certain degree. None of the characters or the situations set up in that episode remains except for the fact that the Cigarette-Smoking Man has returned, and that the X-files have been shut down. The movie starts with Mulder and Scully having been assigned "normal" duties. But as it often happens when this pair is involved, the "normal" has a way of turning into something "paranormal," and soon the two find themselves pulled into a conspiracy that threatens to wipe out life on Earth as we know it. What follows is a two-hour television episode with higher production values, bigger and more expensive special effects, familiar supporting characters (to the fans anyway), and some four-letter words that are not allowed on network television.
This film has the distinction of being the only movie based on a prime-time television show that will still be in production when the networks start the new television season. But that is also its greatest flaw. Since we already know that Mulder and Scully will have new adventures this fall, we are not concerned with their well-being throughout the movie, thus killing any suspense. In addition, we also know that circumstances will only allow for just a small bit of that "truth" that our heroes have been searching for to be revealed, and that something will happen that will cause the X-files to be reopened. Paramount may have had the right idea with its "Star Trek" features; wait until the series finishes its t.v. run so you can have more freedom with your characters and story lines.
Another flaw is that the film doesn't play on its strongest elements. One of the things that draws viewers to the show is its creepiness. Some of the episodes are very scary. That comes from the writing and the different, bizarre things that Scully and Mulder look into. With a "mythos" script, you don't get to go explore those dark, scary places. All you mainly have to deal with is intrigue.
But what really brings viewers back each week are the characters of Mulder and Scully. Viewers want to see these two characters react to situations and play off each other; they want to see them interact, both professionally and personally. Sadly, there is very little of that in this film. Make no mistake. This is David Duchovny's film. He is in nearly every scene, and by the middle of the movie, Gillian Anderson's part has been reduced to that of "damsel-in-distress."
Basically, THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE is just a reward for all its loyal fans; a chance to see Mulder and Scully do their stuff on the big screen. Also, it is a chance to pull in some new fans, and establish some new characters and situations for the up coming season. New fans mean a bigger audience base for the next feature. Oh, yes...
A SEQUEL IS OUT THERE
That was the view from The Middle Seat Center
- John Collins
The flick walks a shaky tightrope between being the "cult" movie we X fans wanted and a general audience movie for those who spend their Sunday nights watching Lawrence Welk reruns, or, god forbid, actually talking to one another. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't quite succeed in either category. The "regular" movie audience will be able to follow along, but to them it'll play like a familiar song sung in a foreign language. As for the X fans, well, like Dana Scully, we couldn't believe our eyes, and, like Fox Mulder, we desperately wanted to believe. But this was no Hollywood blockbuster movie up there on the screen. Instead we got a perfectly servicible T.V. two-parter. All the bells and whistles were present: bodies consumed by alien earthworms, mysterious old men plotting who-the-hell knows what, Mulder drunkenly obsessing on his dark theories, and Scully disbelieving in spite of herself. All of us party faithful with an intimate knowledge of the past 5 seasons have seen it all before. But, you know, that's the whole point of the X Files. We know it's out there! I mean of course, the dark atmosphere of conspiracy that Chris Carter creates so well. We didn't go to the movie to gag on special effects or Oscar-worthy acting. We just wanted to see Mulder and Scully in those familiar, ominous plot turns, and that's what we got.
All things being equal, I'd have been much happier seeing it at home, where we could at least control some of those conspirators who tried so hard to mess around with our X Files flick.
For more great reviews check out the Movie Review Archive from Jon's Ultimate Movie Review Page
Jon and Larry Zietz
- Author: Joy Wise (e-mail)
- Rating: B+
As the feature begins you are hit with extremely technical dialogue that makes you wonder if it'll all be like this. But it isn't. As different characters come on the scene, you immediately sense whether or not the person has an ongoing role. Obviously, the Cigarette-Smoking Man is to be "watched". There is a scene where three men come to the aid of Mulder. You could tell by the mumbling in the audience that these three have been seen before. They don't explain who they are, but you feel that you know them and that they are "good" guys.
The movie moves along at a good pace. There is a lot of action: bombs, chase scenes, and all the usual, but you're never quite sure what's going on. But then, neither are Mulder and Scully. They have made careers of trying to learn about things that they can't explain.
This movie really makes you think. When it's finally over, you're back where you started. You don't know what happened but it doesn't matter. It just makes you want to see more. They will probably have a lot more viewers when the new season begins.
It is a highly entertaining movie with an interesting premise. I want to see it again and I will definitely be watching the series. I give it a B+.
See you at the movies.
- Author: Luke Buckmaster (e-mail)
In terms of budget, special effects and novelty, the movie is certainly far bigger than any episode aired on television. But strangely, it feels just a little too big - the full-scale plot, the menacing alien monsters and a semi-ridiculous climax all contribute to make this appear as simply a pumped up and over-bloated version of the TV show. But, like always, creator Chris Carter has taken some bold risks and, also like always, he manages to pull it off with the precision of a skilled writer and the subtlety of a bull in a China chop. After all, what would the X-Files be without its pumped up and over-bloated themes?
Capping off where the series left finds Mulder and Scully with no They investigate a terrorist bomb threat in Washington, but only after a building is blown to smithereens do they begin to realize that everything is not as simple as it seems. It appears as if two firemen and a young boy were intentionally killed in the blast, to cover up a deadly alien virus that has the potential to wipe the human race out of existence. Thus a new conspiracy is discovered, in which we find that The Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis), The Well-Manicured Man (John Neville) and a mysterious abettor (Armin Mueller-Stahl, whom you may remember from Shine) are cleverly orchestrating. Oh yeah, and The Truth is Out There.
I guess it goes without saying that watching The X-Files on the big screen is a dream come true for many devoted followers. But, it isn't just a flick made for fans - although the movie thankfully doesn't re-introduce the characters, anyone who hasn't seen an episode on TV can easily get the gist of what's been going on for the last few years. However, the more dedicated fan will probably be disappointed by the absence of some characters (in particular, the elusive Agent Alex Krycek), and, most of all, the lack of the show's "leave it to your own imagination" approach.
Rob Bowman (who has directed multiple episodes of the show, plus episodes from others series' including Star Trek: Next Generation and Macgyver) has taken the directors helm and guides the film smartly, if not instinctively. He follows the screenplay (written by Chris Carter and a couple of others) with a dark, twisted grace, much to the help of cinematographer Ward Russel (Lawnmower Man II, The Last Boy Scout) who supplies some all-too-real looking visuals. Along with Mike Oldfield and Mark Snow's eerie editing to the already eerie title music, The senses.
For a movie that isn't bolder, better or smarter than many of its previous episodes on TV (especially the cliff hanger season finale), it's a wonder it still works. Perhaps it is because the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully has stood the test of time, and the full truth is still not found, even when it is closest to them. Should there will be another X-Files movie in the future (and I very much hope there will be), I would prefer to see Chris Carter direct it. Maybe then we would not only have another very good film, but perhaps he could also make something that tops anything we've seen before - making sure that the show's pumped up and over-bloated themes are dealt with in exactly the right hands.
Review © Luke Buckmaster
- Author: Mark O'Hara (e-mail)
One likable side of the film is acting. Perhaps because I have seen probably half a season's worth of shows throughout the run of the series, I was not used to David Duchovny's deadpan looks. I enjoyed his character's own reference to this stoicism, and soon got used to Fox Mulder's tendency to display emotion through actions rather than facial expressions. Conversely, Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully -- though governed by cold logic -- often seems more emotionally reactive. A certain glossiness about her looks in the film bothered me, the gloss extending to her eyes, as though she experienced discomfort with contacts or with tears of frustration about to spill at any second. Applause to the director and make-up people, who give Scully's cheeks broken blood vessels late in the film, after an ordeal that surely would have caused them. On the whole, Mulder and Scully exploit well their level of comfort, after several years of interacting.
Layers of conspiracy lie at the center of the plot, and the aging white males cast as the conspirators turn in believable if humorless performances. Armin Mueller-Stahl, apparently the highest-ranking conspirator (operating beyond the ken and control of the FBI), does not get a great deal of screen time. But he is very good at using his scowl and his accent to portray a sinister secrecy. Martin Landau plays Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil, who is himself the victim of conspiracies - attempts to frame him and, no doubt, discredit his way-out-there writings. Kurtzweil has to scramble to convince even Mulder of his credibility. To me, the most incredible side of Landau's character is his wandering the dark alleys, unarmed, wanted by at least the local police, behind the bar in which he meets Mulder. The "cigarette-smoking man" plays the main heavy here -- besides the aliens themselves. What confuses me about his motivation is that, despite countless reasons to rub out Mulder, he and his secret agency keep letting the tireless G-man get away.
The sets and special effects are grand in The X Files. "Grand" in the old meaning of the word -- full of wonder and modesty, like the behavior of an honorable person. I did find the bomb-sheared office building tacky -- too close to a re-enactment of Oklahoma City. But other catastrophes, afflictions and icky creatures find their ways seamlessly into the narrative. The implosion of the tundra - given away too much in trailers - is a superb computer creation that is edited with both patience and skill. Remarkable illusions are created with the large sets and their gruesome inhabitants in subterranean Antarctica.
Mark Snow's music frequently lends suspense at the right places, though it seems a red-herring when the notes cut in as Mulder glances behind a soda machine that has cheated him out of his change. Some fast-paced pieces seem too densely New Age, layered as thickly as suspicions in viewers' minds.
The script, by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, nicely sets alarms that go off later in the film at crucial times, including a joke from Scully just after she is resuscitated by Mulder. In a way that I don't believe would insult die-hard fans of the series, we are informed about the backgrounds, quirks and quests of the main characters. Just from the hype surrounding the movie I learned enough -- Scully's return to faith, for instance - to help me chip away at plot twists.
I would rate The X Files as a satisfying and intelligent story, though it should not be mistaken for an important film. A question I have for sequel?