A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the second X-Files movie (which is a stand-alone story, not a continuation of the series' core conspiracy) is more likely to appeal to adult fans of the '90s TV show than to teens, though some may still be interested. Be warned that it's pretty grisly (more so than the earlier movie): It includes graphic, horrifyingly detailed depictions of "scientific" medical procedures on unwilling victims, including lengthy, Silence of the Lambs-esque moments of a young woman in captivity awaiting her fate and images of severed limbs, ghastly stitches, copious amounts of blood, and more. Also, a psychic helping the FBI investigate the abduction of an agent is a convicted pedophile ex-priest with 37 victims; the character's crimes are in the past -- and deeply regretted -- but still discussed at great length.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Picking up after the finale of The X-Files TV series, THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE begins with the kidnapping of a female FBI agent. An FBI team searches desperately for clues under the direction of a psychic, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), who guides the team to a severed male arm buried in deep snow. A convicted pedophile, Crissman is hardly the most reliable source, so the FBI reaches out to ex-agent Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and asks her to locate former partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), who specialized in cases involving unexplainable phenomena. Soon Mulder and Scully are back up to their necks in conspiracy, psychic visions, questions of faith and redemption, and bloody murder.
Is it any good?
Coming to theaters six years after the end of the TV series and a decade after the last big-screen outing for The X-Files, it's a little hard to see the point of X-Files: I Want to Believe. The film doesn't really intersect with the aliens-and-shadowy-humans conspiracy mythos explored throughout the series and in the prior film; instead, it's a stand-alone story that feels a little lonesome, as if no one could think of any reason beside the profit motive for returning to the franchise. Fans will no doubt be disappointed by the film's avoidance of director (and series creator) Chris Carter's squirrely rat's nest of entanglements and secrets that was the hallmark of the series; non-fans probably won't care in the first place.
Worse, The X-Files: I Want to Believe squanders both Duchovny and Anderson. Duchovny slouches back into action-hero mode, armed with his faith in the unknown and avid desire to understand the incomprehensible; Anderson gets to agonize over the questions surrounding a young child with a terminal illness. Both of the actors are capable of more than this, and it feels like they know it. The subplot involving Connolly's psychic pedophile priest comes out of nowhere and stays there, never really engaging the audience and wasting the charisma and charm that stand-up-comic-turned-actor Connolly has brought to prior roles in films like Mrs. Brown and Fido. Moody, murky, and graphically grisly, The X-Files: I Want to Believe seems like a film made solely to make money. But will it even be able to find box-office dollars years after the series' original pop-culture cachet has come and gone?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the phenomenon of The X-Files TV show and this film's appearance in theaters six years after it ended (and 10 years after the first movie). Is there an artistic reason for these characters to return, or just the hope of financial reward for the studio?
Families can also discuss many of the questions raised in the film: What's the difference between faith and belief? When does the attempt to extend human life in the face of illness cross moral and ethical lines? Can a criminal earn forgiveness for horrible crimes?
What is the point of making a sequel? Are sequels are better than the original? If so, name some examples.
- In theaters: July 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2008
- Cast: Amanda Peet, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
- Director: Chris Carter
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violent and disturbing content and thematic material.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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