Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
Damned stupid title, this one. How can you possibly fight the future? It’s the future, and is going to happen whether you like it or not. You can change the future, sure, and I suppose you can fight the legacy of the past, but by definition as the future is not set you can’t fight it. It’s like trying to pin diarrhoea to the ceiling. Nevertheless, back in the 90’s the X-Files was one of the most successful television programmes going, and a spin off was inevitable, this 1998 effort (21st August in the UK) was the result.
Contains nothing but the Truth in there and spoilers below
I remember quite liking the X-Files back in 1994-5 ish. Well, I remember liking the one with the stretchy dude that lived under an escalator and could squeeze up people’s toilets to eat their liver. I seem to remember that one being quite exciting. Anyhow, I gradually grew bored of the series, partially because of the never ending will they/ won’t they romance crap with Mulder and Scully, but more because it felt like every single episode was either Aliens or The Government behind it, and it was frankly boring and repetitive. I also seem to remember Mulder’s sister turning up, but she was really a lesbian space octopus controlled by the government. Or she might have been a clone or something. Anyway, by the time 1998 rolled around, I hadn’t watched an episode of the X-Files in about 2 years. As a result, the news that there was going to be a spin off film didn’t exactly make me set off fireworks.
For good reason, as it turned out. I actually didn’t bother seeing this at the time, because of the aforementioned complete boredom with the subject matter, characters, and plots. So, when I saw this come out of the hat for 1998, I instantly thought it would be a good one- a nice chance to catch up with something that I’d just let pass me by. Not to mention I’d get the nostalgia value of seeing a film based on a TV series that I used to watch.
*Straps on tinfoil hat*
OK- this is the X-Files, so we know how it works. Something weird happens, and buggers up some local rural types. In this case, poisonous evil black goop. Agents Mully and Sculder (meh, they may as well be by this stage) are called in. Despite having been at it for years, he believes absolutely everything, and she believes nothing. It turns out that the weird explanation is the correct one, but the Government and a dude that smokes too much know something they shouldn’t/ are covering it up. Mulder pouts a lot and whines about the Truth, while Scully looks all serious and protests about “hard science” and “evidence”, and the story ends with some unsatisfactory cock tease as to what the government has planned. Evil, evil government types.
This has dated very, very badly. It’s frankly a bit (very) boring now, if I’m honest. Maybe the disconnect with the series is to great, and I do seem to remember at the time reading that it features many of the tropes that helped The X-Files run for the better part of a decade. Nevertheless, it almost seems to sleepwalk along, with Mulder and Scully meandering around stating the fecking obvious to each other while some shadowy Government agency lurks in the background and threatens them with banishment to Salt Lake City (actually happens). David Duchovny and Gillain Anderson had been playing these two parts for at least 5 years by this stage, and it shows- they’re as comfortable in these two roles and with each other as I am in a pair of comfy slippers sitting on a comfy sofa drinking a delicious beverage of some description. If anything, they’re almost a bit complacent, and Anderson in particular is practically sleepwalking through the film. Still, can’t say I blame her, it must be bloody tiresome saying “Oh this little green man with 87 eyes and 9 nutsacks can’t possibly be an alien, SCIENCE WON’T HAVE IT”.
Basically, the film can’t transcend it’s TV origins. There’s no point rehashing the series on the big screen with a slightly larger scale, as, well, you may as well just rewatch an episode the TV series (the one with the stretchy dude). Nevertheless, that’s what they’ve done- it’s all “bigger”, and our heroes zip around all over the place dealing with special effects. Nevertheless, the dramatic beats of a film and a TV episode are different and they haven’t taken this into account. There’s no point basically writing a glorified episode of the series (Set piece, conversation, set piece, conspiracy, end) and then padding it with filler, such as the terminally dull crap about Scully “protecting” Mulder, or nonsense about his father that doesn’t help in the slightest. Furthermore, it relies heavily on anyone watching the film being familiar with smoking dude and so forth. I’m not totally unfamiliar with it, but I had problems trying to keep tabs on who these weird shady agent types were, but more importantly, I didn’t really give a fuck.
Adding to the problem is the utterly mundane direction of Bob Bowman who seems to be more interested in making sure Mulder and Scully share intimate moments than any actual action. He’s an utter TV Hack, anyway, and after the simply dreadful Elektra, he’s not likely to get any more big screen work. Good. Basically, this feels damned lazy, there’s nothing to it, no spark, no sense of life. It just trots smugly along, giving the “fans” the extended episode that
they wank themselves senseless over always dreamed of. To be honest, it’s a checklist of X-Files memes, but with added snogging between the two leads, and this kind of shit is monumentally boring on the big screen.
Overall, I don’t like this film. I was over the series in 1998, and in 2012 I’m really over it. If I never see anything to do with the X-Files, then I’m not going to shed a tear. I don’t understand the point of this film, because if it’s for die hard fans of the series, then they’ve got the episodes to go back to, but it’s sure as fuck not going to draw any new fans to it. I give the X-Files movie 1 Dark Lord Xenu out of a possible 4, but I do concede that this is simply not for me.
I’m not even sure this would have been for me back in 1998, if I’m honest.
Until next time,
The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux:
- 2011- The Skin I Live In (2.5 out of 4)
- 2010- The Last Exorcism (2.5 out of 4)
- 2009- Post Grad (1 out of 4)
- 2008- The House Bunny (1 out of 4)
- 2007- Knocked Up (1 out of 4)
- 2006- Volver (1 out of 4)
- 2005- Red Eye (2 out of 4)
- 2004- Dead Clowns (Orangutan of Doom)
- 2003- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (1 out of 4)
- 2002- Talk to Her (4 out of 4)
- 2001- Jeepers Creepers (2 out of 4)
- 2000- Gossip (1 out of 4)
- 1999- All About My Mother (1 out of 4)
- 1998- The X-Files (1 out of 4)
- 1997- Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
- 1996- The Last Supper
- 1995- The Usual Suspects
- 1994- The Color of Night
- 1993- Surf Ninjas
- 1992- The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag
- 1991- Pump Up the Volume
- 1990- Wild at Heart
- 1989- Bull Durham
- 1988- Crossing Delancey
- 1987- The Big Easy
- 1986- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
- 1985- Better off Dead
- 1984- Oxford Blues
- 1983- MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
- 1982- The Thing
- 1981- Honky Tonk Freeway
- 1980- Schock
- 1979- Rich Kids
- 1978- Coma