Review: ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’

I want to believe that Mulder and Scully live happily ever after, but it’s now very apparent that “The X-Files” as we knew them are irrevocably dead.

After an woman goes missing in West Virginia, the FBI are contacted by a man (Billy Connolly) who claims to be having visions connected with the missing person’s case. The two assigned agents (Amanda Peet and Xzibit) aren’t sure that their mysterious psychic can be trusted but have nothing else to go on, so they reluctantly turn to the only person they’ve heard of with any expertise in unnatural phenomenon, disavowed agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Unfortunately, Mulder’s still wanted by the FBI on fraud charges, and only former agent Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) may still know where to find him.

This is it? After six years waiting to find out what happened to agents Mulder and Scully, all we get is an unmemorable cop episode with a common psychic as the supernatural element? Why even call it “The X-Files” at all? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to call it “Whatever Happened to Mulder and Scully?” And all this is set once again in West Virginia, that mystical land forgotten by time that Chris Carter believes is populated with displaced pedophiles and elderly drones who remember nothing and discard all important paperwork. Only fans still interested in the no-longer platonic relationship of Fox and Dana have anything to look forward to here, because there’s just nothing here that’s epic, important, or even interesting enough to care about.

While not as bad as The Happening, the story is one that could have happened any time between conspiracy episodes in the early years of “The X-Files.” The difference is in the chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, both at ease in their familiar characters and closer than ever. But with a story yielding one small element in common with “The X-Files” and a plot executed independently of Fox and Dana’s interaction, everything seems like a distraction to keep milking they same will-they, won’t-they, do-they, don’t-they relationship that’s been dragged out far too long already. As poor as Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was, it made for a better X-Files film than this.

As I mentioned a short wile before the release of I Want to Believe, the core of “The X-Files” has always been an FBI believer and skeptic investigating the unexplained. Anything and everything else that happened outside of that formula was part of the show’s history, and this new film is completely dependent upon knowing that history to get any enjoyment out of it. If all that this was intended to be was a love letter to the fans, then it should have been about Fox and Dana in trouble, whether they were about to be assimilated, cut up as fish food, or demonically possessed to carry out an assassination that brings about Armageddon (all good ideas, Chris!) The sum total of The X-Files: I Want to Believe isn’t the tribute to what made the series great that we’d hoped for, just a sad reminder of why we lost interest to begin with.

(a one skull recommendation out of four)


  1. After reading your review of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”, it saddens me that you, along with so many of your colleagues, apparently have no idea what this movie is all about. I am forwarding a link to a review that, in my opinion, captures the essence of what Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz were trying to say in this film. I hope that you will take a moment to read it, if, for nothing else, to realize that you may have misjudged this beautiful little film. Thank you.


  2. Melanie,

    I hope you took the time to read the review that I wrote about the beautiful little movie you’ve come to love so much. However, my “one skull out of four” was a recommendation and my personal opinion, and for fans of the X-Files or even fans of Scully and Mulder, my opinion is that this story is far too little, far too late.

    Consider the following. As soon as a case of interest comes up, off goes Mulder. He isn’t going to change. He SAID so. Scully love him for it; SHE said so. Sadly, the characters are just now catching up to what fans knew all along, but for the sake of another film, it is rehashed again.

    I’m not saying that this is a horrible movie, but it is a sadly disappointing X-Files movie. The interest of fans is what shapes or breaks a show, a film, or what have you, and with nine seasons and a feature film, what Chris Carter delivered was neither what was promised to nor desired by fans.

    Glad you enjoyed the film!


  3. Hi,

    I’m curious, what you were expecting this movie to be? I think it is unfair to make a blank statement that Carter did not create something the fans desired. Most of the fans I have spoken to, and those who have been polled online, love the movie. I have been a fan since the beginning of the series and I think the movie not only brought resolution to the characters, but illustrated some of the best underlying themes of the series, which definitely made me happy. I don’t think Carter promised us anything except a well-made, stand alone movie featuring Mulder and Scully- and that is exactly what we got. I didn’t send you the review to change your opinion- I have found most people don’t change their minds anyway. I didn’t especially like the movie the first time I saw it, either, but I saw it again and gleaned more from it, then again, and appreciated it even more. My goal is to ask that you simply give it another chance with an open mind sometime in the future. Maybe you will have a similar experience.




  4. What was I expecting a movie called “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” to be? I just wanted to frame the actual question I was answering.

    First off all, what happened to “The X-Files?” The FBI closed the book and that was that? Weren’t BOTH Mulder and Scully on the run at the end? How did Dr. Scully get her credentials back? What about all the critters, creepy stuff, everything else, and “the truth” still out there? Who *IS* chasing monsters in the dark? Are The Lone Gunman still in the conspiracy publishing business? Did Skinner get promoted? What I expected was a few answers to all this, not a rehash of their romanceless relationship and a kiss in the bedroom.

    Six years in real have gone by since the end of the series, yet the only thing the movie covered was one: “What happened to Mulder and Scully?” As a film about redemption, endings, coupling, giving, touchy, feelie, whatever, all that is well and good, but NOT “The X-Files.”

    If advertisers actually advertised what this film was about, then maybe the audience would have responded differently. As you can see, neither the studio (offering a tiny $35 million budget) nor the box office (it barely made $10 million) were entirely interested. This could have done better as a direct-to-television movie event of DVD release, but it was a mistake to hope that audiences felt any importance to rush out and see this.

    So, to sum up, I prefer my FBI conspiracies a little more supernatural and a little less serendipitous. Next I suppose you’ll tell me that “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (parts 1 and 2) aren’t about a pair of jeans that magically fits the butts of skinny, whiny teens (yes that’s a joke… mostly).

    ~ Grim


  5. Well, to just to clarify, I wouldn’t see “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” if you held a gun to my head… I am not someone who is sappy or into “chick flicks” at all.

    I guess your perspective depends on what your definition of the series was… was it a show about aliens, conspiracy, Mulder chasing monsters in the dark and losing his gun 99% of the time? Or was it about something more? I think every fan interprets that differently, and if the former was what you were expecting, I can realistically see how this movie would be disappointing. As a fan of the show, I never went into this movie expecting all the questions from how the series ended to be answered. That has never been Chris Carter’s MO and never will be. He always leaves room for interpretation and all that stuff wasn’t important in the telling of this film anyway (which is why it was advertised as a stand alone). The X-Files were closed in FTF, too, but I didn’t hear anyone complain about it, because it fit in with the overall storytelling, just as it does in this film. There is a supernatural twist present, but this film was more of a psychological thriller with a religious bent, in my opinion- similar to episodes like “Orison” or “Revelations.” If that’s not your thing, I understand, but that doesn’t mean it is any less an example of what “The X-Files” is. One of the reasons I loved the series and I think many people would agree with me on this, was that it never could be boxed into one neat category. One week it might have been a comedy, one week a soap opera, one week a medical thriller, etc. I think this movie fits in with that idea very strongly, and, personally, I think it was very brave of Chris Carter, et al, to make a film as stark and real as this one- especially in the face of so many critics, like yourself, who expected it to be another flashy summer movie.


    Oh, and, by the way… The Lone Gunmen are dead, so I have a strong feeling they aren’t publishing anything anymore, unless it is “Conspiracies from the Great Beyond.”


  6. Oh, if ONLY it had been a comedy…!

    “Mulder wakes up to find himself in a beach house tied to a bed wearing only his socks. Scully walks into the room dressed in only a loose-fitting man’s shirt, shakes out her tussled hair, and says, ‘Hank, has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like David Duchovny? I LOVED “The X-Files!” Can I be your skeptical platonic love interest?’ She rips off the shirt, jumps on top of Mulder, and starts riding him like a bull moaning ‘I want to believe! I want to believe!'”

    See? All better!

    ~ Grim


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