The X-Files (1998)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Alien Film, Sci-Fi Horror, Detective Film  |   Release Date - Jun 19, 1998 (USA - Unknown), Jun 19, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The X-Files: Fight the Future was hyped as a must-see for those who follow the popular television series, who would need resolution after the 1998 season finale. But it was also meant for those who don't know the Cigarette-Smoking Man from the Marlboro Man. Coming up with a film that would build on the show's famously twisty mythology while also existing as a discrete entity for non-philes culminated in a muddy outing likely to leave both camps unsatisfied. The events of the first X-Files feature film should exist within parentheses, since nothing that happens is either a direct follow-up or a precursor to other events in the series' timeline. (Creator Chris Carter has never been overly concerned about apparent contradictions in his narrative.) While it may be momentary fun to watch David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson say words they can't say on television, the film does not offer what the show generates best: an eerie sense of disorientation. In the series, unexplained anomalies are tantalizing -- in the film, they feel small, like plot holes. The X-Files has the scale of a big-budget summer movie -- including a set piece in Antarctica and some reasonably special effects -- there are enough decent thrills so that it's never boring, and as ever, the leads make a lovely duo. But there's too little exposition for it to work as a tutorial, too few sublime moments to win many new recruits. And those who obsessively chart the show's serpentine mythology will leave frustrated that the movie intentionally confounded their expectations in the interest of finding a shallow middle ground.