A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is pretty much what you'd expect from a typical X-Files TV episode, but with PG-13 amped-up profanity and violence. Fox Mulder curses, people bleed and get shot in the head, and there are massive explosions. A heavy paranoid-conspiracy mindset suggests that acts of terrorism (specifically the Oklahoma City bombing) could be perpetrated by untrustworthy U.S. government officials doing inside jobs -- a worldview some parents might not want to encourage.
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What's the story?
Fans of TV's The X-Files are the main audience for this theater-screen extrapolation of the paranormal-paranoia one-hour chiller. Dovetailing with a long, complicated saga threading in and out of TV episodes, THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE finds FBI investigators Fox Mulder (David Duchovney) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), formerly running a special branch devoted to the weird and supernatural, now demoted to "routine" police work -- like a mammoth terrorist explosion leveling a government building in Dallas. Mulder, however, learns the bombing was a diversion, to destroy evidence that an extraterrestrial virus had been unearthed from its Ice Age cave nearby and is infecting humans. Apparently space beings, aided by a worldwide conspiracy of elite human traitors, have been slowly colonizing Earth for many years. But thanks to the vicious monsters produced by the virus, the process now looks less like a peaceful Invasion of the Body Snatchers infiltration and more of a grisly Alien massacre -- unless Mulder and a slightly disbelieving Scully can expose the plot before it's too late.
Is it any good?
Though one might expect an X-Files-based feature to take the series and its themes into fresh directions, this UFO-show doesn't gain much more altitude. The cast has the privilege of swearing, and the special effects and sets are more expensive. One very minor character held over from the TV show dies (or...does he?); others make brief fan-pleasing cameos. That's pretty much it.
As with the small-screen scripts, we get a tantalizing sci-fi plotline, full of questions, maddeningly unresolved by the finale, with shadowy villains still gloating that Mulder (who pops up mysteriously in Arctic for an especially farfetched and mystifying climax) still don't know what's really going on. If he doesn't, neither do we, and the show's repeated message to "trust no one," especially government authorities, starts to seem a little stale and lazy. When a drunken Mulder urinates on an alley poster for Independence Day, it may be a clue to what the filmmakers here thought of that simple-minded blockbuster. At least it had a storyline any average viewer could follow.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between the TV show and the movie. Which do you prefer, and why?
How has the world and the political climate changed since The X-Files became popular? Does its message of endless conspiracy and shadowy cabals manipulating events still feel relevant?
Do you trust the government to tell the truth about UFOs? Why or why not?
- In theaters: June 19, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2001
- Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau
- Director: Rob Bowman
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 122 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some intense violence and gore
For kids who love sci-fi
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