Monday, June 22, 1998

Out of this world

Movie: The X-Files

Posted on Mon, Jun 22, 1998 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 4.00

The few times I caught the tube version of "The X-Files" I enjoyed the show, but wasn't completely hooked on the drama that's inspired a passionate cult following. After experiencing the extraterrestrial adventure on the big screen, however, I'm anxiously awaiting the show's return to television this fall.

Series creator Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz's film script picks up where the series left off, though it's not necessary to have followed the show to its season finale to enjoy the movie. This small-screen to large-screen extension quickly, and subtly, fills in newcomers on all the necessary "X-Files'" activities.

Opening with a skin-crawling scene of a little boy invaded by alien forces and then cutting to an Oklahoma City-like bombing of a federal building in Dallas, both scenes soon become intertwined and set the course for Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) to continue their supernatural investigations.

A mysterious vaccine, alien colonization, corn fields and infected bees all play into the devious work of the worldwide syndicate, a cabal of elderly men led by Konrad Strughold (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Once the chain of events is set into motion, Mulder is given advice by Kurtzwell (Martin Landau), a mysterious M.D. and conspiracy theorist who may, or may not, have been a friend of Mulder's father. His leads and warnings soon become all too true as Mulder and Scully find themselves tackling something literally out of this world.

Duchovny and Anderson easily translate the roles of Mulder and Scully to the big screen, where they enjoy freer reign to explore their complex but arm's-length emotional relationship. A running gag in the film concerns whether the two will ever lip-lock. Sure, it's a tired old premise, but here it's done so freshly that it works.

Director Rob Bowman keeps the suspense pumping all the way to the finish. Even situations that are implausible tend to work because of Bowman's on-the-edge delivery. A visually stunning scene where Muller and Scully are trying to outrun collapsing tundra in Antarctica is positively nail-biting.

I know, I know: Trust no one. Still, if you're looking for a genuine thrill in the summer crop of blockbusters, "The X-Files" marks the spot.


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