Saturday, July 26, 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe Review

THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE is a new motion picture based on the phenomenally popular, award-winning series The X-Files. Long-anticipated, the film reunites series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson under the direction of series creator Chris Carter, who co-wrote the screenplay with Frank Spotnitz.

Former FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), a believer in alien abductions, paranormal phenomena and government conspiracies, and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a more pragmatic physician with forensic expertise, team up to find a missing FBI agent by following a trail laid out by a defrocked Catholic priest (Billy Connolly), who's a self-proclaimed psychic.

[warning: may contain spoilers]

The coming together of Fox Mulder and Dr Dana Scully is expected. What is unexpected is that they have become romantically involved which came as a surprise to me. I guess I was not watching the television series as closely as I should.

This movies The X-files: I Want to Believe is about faith. Its story telling is convoluted and at times confusing. However it asks some basic questions about faith for Scully, Mulder, the FBI agents and of the audience.

First, Scully is a non-practicing Catholic who desperately wants to believe in a loving God but was unable to do so because of her rational mind and sufferings in her life. In the movie she is presented with a convicted homosexual paedophile defrocked Catholic priest, Father Joe, who claims to receive God's visions that will help to solve the case. To Scully's mind, it is inconceivable that God should forgive this paedophile priest who abused his power over his choir boys. What is more gulling is that God will use such a person to help them find the missing FBI agent. Even when Father Joe cried tears of blood it fails to convince her. She desperately want to believe but is not able to.

Second, Mulder's faith in the unexplained and paranormal gives him faith to be open to the unknown. However this openness can be dangerous because it leads him to be vulnerable to exploitations and manipulations. It alienates him from many who considers him weird. Mulder's faith is based on a presumption that "the truth is (always) out there". That may not be true but may be based on his subconscious need to find his sister.

Third, the faith of the FBI agents who believe only in things they can see. This Cartesian belief gave them closed minds, unwilling to believe that there is a possibility that Father Joe actually sees visions. Their mind remains closed in spite of fact that Father Joe have proved many times that he knew things he should not have known. Instead their conclusion is that Father Joe is the guilty one. After all he is a known paedophile. Their faith is in their own righteousness.

Finally, the faith of the film-makers in the gullibility of the movie goers. Scully looks for cure for an incurable disease in a child by using google! And when she found that a Russian facilities has used a stem stem technique on dogs, she proceed to use it on her patient. Hello...what happened to informed consent, field testing. etc? And we were led to believe that she is a competent scientist and doctor!

That the viewers will believe in unethical Russian scientists experimenting on human beings in the United States. They obtain their subjects by kidnapping people (which includes an FBI agent) and doing head transplant? I guess that's what they were doing because the movie was not clear on that part. I do not know what transplanting heads have to do with stem cells research.

There are a lot of interesting themes in the second X-files movie about faith. I really want to believe that it could be a better movie.

What others say

Jeffrey Overstreet from Christianity Today

To their credit, Carter and Spotnitz take Father Joe seriously enough to consider the possibility of God's forgiveness for his heinous crimes. And as Scully's spiritual journey progresses through questions about forgiveness, faith, and reason, only this repentant priest offers meaningful counsel: "Don't give up." But Joe's character deserved more detail and attention. We don't learn much about him. And as both he and the other religious figure in the film, the unpleasant Father Ybarra (Adam Godley) who works with Scully at the hospital, are both suspicious characters, moviegoers are likely to walk away with the impression that Catholics are creepy. The film's general disapproval of faithful Christians becomes even more obvious during the film's closing moments. As Scully tries to decide between active hope and a fearful surrender, Father Ybarra and other Christians stand by scowling, making it clear they'd rather she gave up. Nevertheless, X-Files fans should leave the theater with Father Joe's counsel in mind—"Don't give up." Mulder and Scully are alive to continue exploring that mysterious territory between truths we can prove, and spiritual Truth that's still "out there." Perhaps they needn't "fight the future" after all. They look ready to take on grand new adventures, and if Carter and Co. can cook up some good stories, the franchise might be worth revisiting. Is it possible? You knew I was going to say this: I want to believe!

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Christian Hamaker from

Scully wants to believe. “I’m a doctor,” she tells Mulder. “I can’t look into the darkness any longer. I don’t want that darkness in my home.” “I think maybe the darkness finds you,” he tells her later. But as Scully opens herself to the idea that God is communicating with her—even through a pedophile priest—her eyes begin to fill with hope. Such ideas will be challenging to Christian viewers as well. We believe God uses weak human vessels to serve himself, but when confronted with the vileness of Father Joe’s crimes, how easy is it to let our suspicions overtake those convictions? The X-Files: I Want to Believe, is at its best in examining Scully’s slow awakening to the idea that God may be trying to tell her something.

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Blogger Paul said...

I have missed the X-files series, especially the earlier season when Mulder and Scully were together. Very interesting chemistry.

One of my fav illustrations on the resurrection and the life comes from an X-files episode. Unfortunately it's impact is not so good on non X-files fans :-(
Another movie on my to see list ...

5:58 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Paul,

I believe you will like the X-files television series. Like all series there are good episodes and bad ones. I like the overall themes of the series and that it dared to ask hard questions about faith, believing, and human evil.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

poor grammar on my part. I meant to say I miss the old X-file series. I was an avid fan. I lost interest during the season where Mulder disappeared. His replacement was a good actor but there was no chemistry like that of Mulder and Scully.

And yes, some episodes were great but some were just so so.

Deep Throat and the "Cancer man"? were very interesting characters ....

11:37 AM  

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