Tuesday, July 29, 2008

X-rated entertainment

"Hey, Scully, check this out."
"That's not your usual fare, Mulder."
"True, but can you believe how bad this site is?"
"I can see that, Mulder. And what's with that stupid monocle?"

I am an X-Files fanboy (and given that the movie took in a paltry $10 million over the weekend, there must be less of us still around than I had assumed. I wanted to believe. Oh well, go see Batman for the 38th time, you superhero fuckers. Give me a shadowy conspiracy any day.) I thought that such a public admission was necessary so you can take whatever I say, good or bad, with however many heaping bowls of salt you feel is required.

Shorter plot: the present day. An FBI agent is missing. A defrocked priest (an excellent Billy Connolly) claiming psychic powers is helping them. They're stuck. Who ya gonna call?

Strictly considering the plot, it's decent, if not terribly creepy à la The Host or Irresistible, thriller fare, with the strongest nod to both Beyond the Sea, for Father Joe's connection to the realm of the dead -- on both sides of the divide -- and All Souls, for the religious/protector component that surrounds Scully, not merely for her role on this missing persons case, but her real life as a practicing doctor. Mention is made by Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet), in between her googly eyes towards Mulder, of such characters as Clyde Bruckman and Gerald Schnauz (hey Carter, thanks for the shout-outs to us geeks), though to be technical, Father Joe sees more than simply how someone is going to meet the scythe-wielding dude.

My biggest problem with l'intrigue is when you utilize someone (Alex Diakun) so well known to X-Philes as a first-class oddball with a master's degree in unsettling, well, you'll see. Actually, you won't. Did you forget about Millennium's Dr. Ephraim Fabricant? Xzibit's Agent Drummy is serviceable as the new skeptic in a Kersh/old school Skinner sort of way, but both he and Peet are there merely as window dressing, nothing more. The stars of the show, literally and emotionally, are David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Their dialogue and relationship six years after The Truth are eminently believable and nearly exactly how I pictured them to be living. The snarky Mulderisms remain (as do the sunflower seeds), and Scully herself has ratcheted up her verbal edge while maintaining her inner strength.

As a thriller, it's solid, but won't knock your socks off like the most classic episodes of the show. Though there are some suitably gruesome moments, which were nice to see and the wintry locales definitely fit the detached mood of the piece -- Scully and Mulder from their past (or at least trying -- and failing -- to be in certain instances), at times from each other, the remote, obscured air of these crimes -- and while I'm beyond, er, thrilled that there is a well-done, emotional nod to an important part of the most recently televised past, there is nary a mention of any super soldiers! Woo! But the further development and exploration of the characters of Mulder and Scully is where the film knocks it out of the park. There's nothing gratuitous, nothing forced in for the sake of pleasing us whiny, loudmouthed dorks, or even Chris Carter himself. It flat out works. Beautifully.

The American public may still not believe, but I do.


Mary Ellen said...

I never had the chance to get into the X-Files phenomena when it was on TV. I'm not sure why, maybe I had other things to do...like raise a pack of teenagers that I wished would be abducted by aliens so I could go to bed without wondering what disaster awaited me when I awoke.

I'd kinda like to see this movie, though...but do you have to know the whole X-File series to know what's going on? But hey....going to a movie is great cuz then I can get a humongous bucket of popcorn with REAL imitation butter topping on it, as opposed to the FAKE imitation butter topping.

Spartacus said...

Randal - I was never much of X-Philer either, and I agree with Mary Ellen that I feel like I'd be missing some inside information, if I plop down the $10.50 (that's without the Internet handling fee) to see it. Then again, if the film only took in $10M, could it be long before it's a netflix rental?

pissed off patricia said...

I read the entire post and have no idea what you are writing about. Do I need to get out more?

Randal Graves said...

ME, you should really try hands-off parenting. As for the movie, no, you don't have to be an expert on the series. It helps to know a tiny bit about Mulder and Scully as characters, but that's about it.

spartacus, understandable. I'd feel the same way if they had, I don't know, a Sopranos flick out. I didn't think it would do THIS bad. I just hope they get to film one more conspiracy type flick.

POP, it was a teevee show, getting out more wasn't necessary. ;-)

Man, NO one watched the X-Files? Buncha goddamn commies.

Freida Bee said...

But, inquiring minds want to know, Did they do it? (Sorry, I saw The Dark Knight this weekend. I am pulling the Mr. Bee's birthday wish defense.)

Randal Graves said...

Scully did with me. Oh, you mean on the movie screen. We don't see it, but it's certainly implied.

Don't get me wrong, I like some angsty Batman, but c'mon. And that's a legitimate defense. Not as effective as a 3-4, maybe, but solid.

DivaJood said...

// A defrocked priest (an excellent Billy Connolly) claiming psychic powers is helping them. They're stuck. Who ya gonna call?//


Fox Muldaur is hot.

Scarlet W. Blue said...

Okay, I did see The Dark Knight over the weekend, but my brother was paying and Christian Bale is so hot.... Not that I don't still miss the X-Files and two of the best characters ever to live on American TV. I do. I can't wait to see it. On DVD?

Mary Ellen said...

We don't see it, but it's certainly implied.

Hmmmm....Is implied sex better than real sex? I should just tell my husband that he's getting implied sex tonight. I wonder if he'll buy into that?

Randal Graves said...

diva, that's what my wife keeps on telling me.

SWB, at this rate, it'll be on DVD by next week!

ME, at this point, I'll take implied. Better than no sex. Muah.

Stella said...

Billy Connolly? Oh, that's what I call GREAT casting.

Bradda said...

I watched X-Files back in the day, it's just been so long. I'm getting tired of Hollywood remaking everything under the sun, although I know this is a sequel. I think Carter should work on something new and different. My 2 cents...

Bradda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
okjimm said...

I'll wait for the DVD release. And Bubba's review. He will not let me watch any movies not rated, 'OK-Dad'.

Unconventional Conventionist said...

Dang I loved that show when it was on. Never missed any. Hard pressed to say which one was my favorite, but Mulder's murder trial where the clairvoyant kid outs the Alien judge on the panel ranks right up there.

Liberality said...

Not that I am going to watch either movie (Batman? or X-Files) but I like that their is at least a woman of substance on the x-file show at least.

Tengrain said...

I saw exactly one episode of X-files, something about incest and momma being kept on a skateboard under the house joists giving birth to monster inbred babies. It was both revolting and ridiculous, and so I never watched it again. And frankly, I came to it too late to really care about any of them.

That said, many, many people I know and love totally lived for this show. I have at least one friend (hi Nancy) who stalked the star, so don't feel bad about Scully, Randall, you are an underachiever in this arena.

And I won't bother you with my obsession with Buffy...



Dr. Zaius said...

I love the X-Files. I have seen every episode. My favorite is the guy who could change the weather. And Flukeman, of course.

Distributorcap said...

i have to say i have seen as many X files episodes as i have seen Buffy or Simpsons or 90210 episodes


but Gossip Girl


Dusty said...

I feel so much better knowing I am not the only commenter that never watched the teevee show Randal.

But I do enjoy good plots that develop the relationship between the major characters..so you have my interest piqued.

Randal Graves said...

stella, he was great in it.

bradda, well, to be fair, he did, and those Fox bastards canceled Millennium way too early, and Harsh Realm after, what, three episodes? Bring on more X-Files movies, dammit!

okjimm, that's a thoughtful son you have who doesn't want to expose you to anything bad like on-screen drug use or naked boobies.

UC, it's like picking a favorite Simpsons episode, nigh impossible.

liberality, Scully rules, period.

tengrain, ridiculous? That was a classic episode you balmy bastard. Wait, the Buffy thing redeems you. But if you say Once More, With Feeling is their best episode, I'll know you've been brainwashed by the lunatics on the internets. ;-)

dr. zaius, The Rain King! And hard to beat the flukeman. Even getting chopped in half couldn't keep him down.

dcap, I knew you'd be jonesing for some new episodes of that show. ;-)

dusty, yeah, yeah, you're all mad. Just don't say you watched Friends. Yikes!

Christopher said...

I hear ya, Randal.

I love the X-Files. Watched every episode and we own the entire series on DVD and watch our favorite episodes often.

For me, nothing on TV was creepier than "Home." I still have an out of body reaction to it.

A brilliantly written and acted bit of TV genius.

Dean Wormer said...

You know your review makes me want to see this film even more.

Bummer that it's not doing well at the BO. Batman's eating everything alive this summer.

Randal Graves said...

Just remember, if you hate it, it's not my fault. ;-)

Batman is just one of those weirdo cultural things that does that now and then. Even the first Burton Batman had a bit of this. Or for music, look at Thriller. That was everywhere.

Snave said...

Shadowy conspiracies are the best. I'll check it out!!!

Stella said...


"David Ducovny
Why won't you love me?"

(Great review. I'm actually looking forward to Billy Connelly. He's always a great addition to any cast...)