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"He's but one man. One man alone cannot fight the future."
That may be true, but team one man with his wonderful "you made me a whole person" partner and it looks like the future may be in for a brawl.
I'll admit I was concerned. I worried that we'd be served up a summer action flick full of leaping lizard aliens and explosions, Victim!Scully and bees - a glossy grab bag of mythology madness and character exposition for the masses with no emotional core. I'm glad to say I was wrong. Director Rob Bowman and writer Chris Carter can generate eye-candy fireballs to their heart's content and I'll eat it up with a spoon as long as they realize the real story, the real fire, is in the hearts of Scully and Mulder. Thankfully, they did and the heart and soul of these two characters carry this film farther than one bee can travel. In the end, when the credits rolled I had a smile on my face, and the second time I saw it I enjoyed it more. When push comes to shove that's really what it is all about after all isn't it? I thought it was a good flick. I had fun.
Good, but not great. However, I really don't know how they could have done it much differently given the constraints the film was under. From a serious fan perspective you can't help but be disappointed that after all those hollow promises of answered questions *these* are the "answers" they come up with. I really didn't see any grand leaps here that gave me pause - just more oilien background and the gestating lizard alien addition. Oh, and for some reason, really big spaceships are buried about. Smallpox, bounty hunters, Samantha - all too complex for the average moviegoer. I've got to say though that all this corny oilien hocus pocus doesn't matter much to me as I've all but given up trying to make logical sense of the mythology anymore. Sometimes it is best just to accept it and move on. Less headaches. Trust me. Let it go. As for the character exposition, it worked for me. They managed to get a nice introductory snapshot for both leads without boring we fans (the only mystery for the uninitiated must have been the Lone Gunmen). All in all, I fear that in order to make this a great film for the hardcore fans the rest of the movie-going audience would have had to be left in the dust, so I'm content with what we were given.
The main reason for my contentment was the theme of the movie: that together Mulder and Scully are a force to be reckoned with. After a season of famine - too often lacking what makes the X-Files really work - that amazing Yin-Yang partnership - this movie was a veritable feast. The character moments were so true that for the first time in a long time I loved Mulder. (Maybe in part because he vocalized what we Scullyists have been saying for years - that he needs Scully for who she is and actually admitting, "I owe you everything Scully and you owe me nothing"). This is the Scully and Mulder I enjoy. How fun to see them actually playing with each other at the start ("I saw that face") and to see them working together. Take that simple scene in the car. Scully says right. Mulder says left. So they meet halfway and go forward to the answer. That summed up the movie for me perfectly. We see this bond again illustrated in two other defining moments - Scully using her science to examine the fossils needs only look at Mulder and he knows, and, in the end, Mulder the believer sees the proof of his quest and a weary Scully sees it in him as she mutters "I saw it" into the snow.
As a person who has been occasionally critical of Duchovny's acting I think he was at his absolute best in this film. From little things like that drunken swagger to his beautiful heartfelt confession of feelings, his performance worked for me the entire time. Anderson, as usual, excelled in the quiet moments (though I think you'd have to be dead not to cheer Cranky!Scully ordering folks about like someone twice her size). The inner turmoil Scully was suffering was radiating through her performance. The little touches like the moment where Scully hands Mulder his jacket and watches him leave or the way she leaves the room after handing over the evidence that reopens the X-Files at the end are the reason I simply adore this actress. Well, all that and her "what are you not telling me" moment where we can see how many times she's been down this same in the dark path with Mulder. The dynamic created by these two actors as they struggled with their emotions about being split up is a shining example of why the X-Files is as popular as it is: the "you and me against the world" truth that feeds their emotions for each other. Mr. Carter you can blow things up until the cows come home, but this is what keeps your audience watching and invested.
The single most frustrating thing in the film for me was the cop- out in the hallway, which went some way toward marring this film's character and acting highlight. I'm really not sure exactly what Carter thought he was getting away with here. It was obvious to anyone who watched the scene that Mulder and Scully were intent on kissing each other so I don't know how in the world anyone who hates that idea could be happy with this turn of events. All it did was show that they do think of each other "that way" and were willing to act on it. Having the sleeping stunt bee wake up at just that moment when both their heads were already buzzing was not clever writing, it was manipulative foolishness. It brings to mind the Chris Carter I saw in the MSNBC interview practically cackling childishly "Beware Diana Fowley" in reference to season six. Gee, I can hardly wait to see that. Not.
As far as the movie's hype was concerned,1013 took great pleasure in informing us that season five was this twenty-episode trailer for the film. To their credit there was a galvanizing moment at the end that really stood out. Scully telling Mulder "I can't. I won't" in reference to leaving him that directly echoed her lines from "The Red and the Black" where she told him she could not follow. I found this a huge and touching character moment perfectly played with a wonderful payoff. The X-Files are reopened and Scully is as invested in their success as Mulder - wanting to fight, to find a cure, to save as many people as she can. Beyond that there were a few references to dialogue we'd seen such as "fellow travelers" from that episode everyone is still trying to block. Perhaps they were referring to Scully's belief journey or her emotions in "The End" towards Mulder. Who knows? Oh, and they trotted out that old weak reason why they can't kill Mulder as if repeating it will make it seem more logical.
From a technical standpoint I was particularly taken with the art direction and cinematography. The eerie cerulean reflections of the ice cave, the stark metallic interior of the jiffy-pop hives, and the panic-laden corn chase were all a visual treat. I especially liked the shot from above the domes where Mulder and Scully emerge like ants from the corn in the bottom right corner of the screen. Actually the thing I was most unimpressed with was probably what they spent the most money on - the spaceship. It was just a dark and dank mass of green glowing pods. At once so huge Mulder is dwarfed in it yet the second he puts binoculars to his face he finds exactly where Scully was taken. There were also a couple of editing moments that worked very well - the quick transition from the primitive man who finds out the hard way that tracking lizard aliens is not a good idea moving to that great shot of Stevie falling down the hole. There was also the nice cut from the syndicate talking about taking away from Mulder what he holds most valuable to a lingering shot on Scully. I have to admit I found Snow's score for the most part unremarkable. I did like hearing the theme woven throughout and really liked the music playing as Mulder and Scully drove through the middle of nowhere Texas, but other than that little stood out.
I also have to give a big nod to the special effects in the end. The film's most spectacular moment for me was that stumbling dash across the cracking ice flow and then watching Mulder and Scully fall into the crater only to be lifted out on top of the UFO before falling off onto the ice below. A great visual moment.
If you start to think too hard about this movie the questions become overwhelming. What if Scully had not wanted a drink? Why even blow up the building in the first place - surely there's an easier way to dispose of bodies? What if Mulder hadn't gone to that bar to get drunk? What if Scully had changed clothes? And so on, and so on. To enjoy this movie you've got to let that all go and focus on what the film really was about. In the end I saw the Mulder and Scully I want to believe in. Not fighting each other, but fighting together. Finally both on the same page. Realizing they are in this until the end together, equally and echoing the same sentiment - "If I quit now, they win" - and we can't have that now, can we?
- Retread alert (just so the movie still felt like home): Gary Grubbs who played the sheriff in "Our Town" was the fire chief in the beginning of the film, and of course Terry O'Quinn as the S.A.C. blown to bits was in "Aubrey".
- Nice touch making Scully's first line in the film "Mulder, it's me" - I know it gave me a chuckle. That and the fact that she immediately launches into a lengthy oh so Scully speech about terrorism.
- As suspected the movie's code name came from the Texas county seen on the fire trucks - "Blackwood".
- You know, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that there was no Lariat bumper sticker on the back of the snow cat Mulder was driving. I'm certain they must have a rental counter in Antarctica.
- Scully's cell phone: 555-0113. And who didn't enjoy that lovely little cell phone dance we got to see when she was hiding out in the freezer. From the looks of it she was keeping that thing in the small of her back along with her gun.
- I could have done without the growing razor nails on the lizard alien - it made it a little too sci-fi cheesy when they threw in that effect.
- Isn't Dr. Kurtzweil just the model OB/GYN? He lurks about in alleys, writes books like "Countdown to the Apocalypse", has "Nazi Gold" on his bookshelf, and keeps four year old copies of "Gynecology Today" on his coffee table (wouldn't that make it "Gynecology Quite a While Ago"). The guy spent so much time flitting amongst the dumpsters that I think it is far more likely that Al was short for Alley rather than Alvin.
- You can tell how thrilled Mulder is with the new assignment. While all the other agents are in ties he is wandering around in a T-shirt. I guess that brings us to…
- Frank's Fashion Spot: Mmmmmmm. Mmmm. Love that Scully movie wardrobe. That long slit skirt combo was just gorgeous. Perfectly capitalizing on that 40's flair that Gillian has always had going for her. A fabulous choice. I hope we see that one again on the small screen. Though for future reference boys, the Scully we love is the one that came in rushed and rumpled and tried to quickly tame her errant hair in a picture's reflection not MovieStar!Scully who has taken to wearing lipstick and a pushup bra to bed.
- Well, it seems that while recreating Mulder's apartment (except with the fact that it once again moves location in the hallway and 1013 can't remember he lives in Alexandria not Arlington) was no problem they just decided to move Scully to upscale new Georgetown digs. Apparently instead of having that big wood armoire in her living room she decided to put her fridge there instead.
- When discussing this apartment change with a friend she managed the most creative reason for the move. You see, during "The End" when Mulder and Scully were in the smoldering basement, a stray ember somehow snuck its way into the folds of Scully's clothes. It then rode home with her and approximately eighteen hours later suddenly popped out and flared up landing on that striped couch of hers and burning her apartment to the ground. Scully was then able to use the insurance money to buy her new wardrobe and move into the new apartment. Hey, I've heard these things can happen…
- You know, you can't get much more quintessential Scully than that scene where she diagnoses herself as she reacts to the bee sting. That's the Scully we know and love.
- Just how long does it take 911 to get to Mulder's apartment? It is daylight through his window when he looks through the picture album and then presto-stingo it's night as Scully is taken away from SpeedBump!Mulder (who took a blow to the left temple that I'm sure would make Scully proud had she been conscious).
- Our Little Sailor: Not! Don't even start with me. I don't no-longer-movie-wording believe they cut that out. For those of you who, like myself, harbored an unexplainable desire to see Agent Scully finally get to say what we know she thinks, there was nothing but disappointment here. Sure, Mulder gets to finish what he started in "Bad Blood" like three times, but the great Scully line (which was uttered in her supreme frustration at the end of that road in the middle of the night) was edited out by a quick cut to the train crossing lights and a whistle. Sure. Fine. WHATEVER.
- As much as I enjoyed Pranky!Scully I have to say that perhaps the best time to crack a joke is not when just resuscitated on the floor of an alien spaceship while lizard aliens are all about trying to burst out. Perhaps she felt if she said "I'm fine" Mulder would've never believed her.
- Maybe it was a complete coincidence but I couldn't help getting a chuckle out of the large stuffed moose head adorning Casey's - our Moose's favorite pub. I didn't see any squirrels, but there was that rat that scurried across the alley just before Well Manicured Man became Well Done Man.
- With all the obvious care given to the creation of the film I was quite surprised to see an obvious editing flub during the bee all that you can bee scene. Scully can clearly be seen untying her jacket and covering her head in two different shots in this segment.
- I'll admit I have a deep seated fear about season 6 that Carter will think he has to find a way to once again level set Scully back to the start. I hope and pray this does not happen because I just won't be able to take it. My head will surely explode quicker than you can say "Quit staring at me, I'm fine". Yes, please keep her a skeptic and a scientist about most things, we, like Mulder, need that "goddamn strict rationalism and science", but don't let her discount the alien angle anymore. I mean really, did we have to have Scully head down in the snow when it took off? Did she really see it? Hell, she rode the damn UFO bareback (talk about your Space Mountain) and ended up next to a crater the size of some small countries. Mr. Carter, please don't damage this wonderful character by miring her in further denial.
- Date stamp: The telegram in the end reads September 6, 1998.
- Note to boys at 1013: Would it be possible to allow Scully to have some sexual feelings at some point in the series without having to suffer afterwards? No homicidal maniac or monster-of- the-week setting their sights on her? No lacinating chest pains? I'd like her to be able to experience temporary loss of motor control for a good reason.
- Anyone else find it amusing that Mulder started bashing that canister against the pod right where Scully's face was? I kept thinking if he swung too hard he'd smash her face as well.
- One thing I did find of interest about the mythology angle is the possibility that given the injection Scully is now immune to oiliens. Once again the truth is in her.
- Oh, and one last thing. Goddamn bee. If you thought I hated those flying plot devices before you can only imagine my opinion of them now. What fence?
"I had you big time."