The X Files: Fight the Future [Blu-Ray]
Screenplay : Chris Carter
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 1998
Stars : David Duchovny (Fox Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully), Martin Landau (Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil), Tom Braidwood (Frohike), Blythe Danner (Jana Cassidy), William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man), Jeffrey DeMunn (Dr. Ben Bronschweig), Dean Haglund (Langly), Bruce Harwood (Byers), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Conrad Strughold), John Neville (The Well-Manicured Man)
There have been many television shows derived from successful movies. Some have worked extremely well, like the long-running M*A*S*H, which was adapted from Robert Altman’s 1970 military satire, and Alice, based on Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974). And then there have been the not-so-successful, including Time Cop, which was based on the 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme sci-fi thriller, and Friday the 13th, the in-name-only spin-off of the popular slasher series.
However, when pressed it’s difficult to think of a television show outside of Star Trek that has spawned a theatrical movie, but that is exactly what Twentieth Century Fox decided to do in the summer of 1998 with its hit series The X Files, which at the time was about five years into its run. The studio was obviously banking on the film as the beginning of a movie series, which was not a bad idea since the beauty of The X Files is that, in effect, it can never end. After all, is it even plausible to suppose that answers could be found to all the questions the series dredged up, even in its first five years? In a show where everything is a conspiracy, even truthful answers would be suspected.
Before delving into this review, though, I must confess that I have watched maybe a half-dozen episodes of The X Files television show, so I am hardly what one would refer to as an “X-phile.” Going into the film, I knew the basic premise of the two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who investigate paranormal activity. I had heard rumors of global conspiracies, and I had a vague notion that the movie was somehow intended to blow the whole thing wide open by revealing much of what Mulder and Scully have been searching for. Of course, since I didn’t really know what the “whole thing” was about, I was just hoping for some good, entertaining sci-fi escapist fare.
Which is exactly what The X Files: Fight the Future supplies. The paradox of both the show and the movie is that, like its investigative protagonists, it is both hysterically paranoid and rigorously rational. It has both the ying and the yang of modern, conspiratorial paranoia, effectively appealing to the Mulder (paranoid, suspicious, fixated on the notion that there is more out there than science can possible understand) and the Scully (rational, scientific, determined that everything has a logical explanation) in all of us. Series creator Chris Carter, who also wrote the screenplay, has a deep understanding of the underlying unease that runs through the American psyche, which requires an external enemy upon which we can project our collective fears. In the 1950s through the Reagan era, it was communists, but with the Cold War at an end, why not replace them with aliens?
The movie opens with a sequence taking place 35,000 years ago, where two primitive men come face-to-face with an alien being hiding deep in an ice cave in what would become North Texas. This sets up the basic premise, which is that aliens have been on Earth for longer than even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist has imagined, and it is only a matter of time before they begin to make their presence known. When the story moves forward to the present, it finds Mulder and Scully assigned to anti-terrorism routines, since the X Files (the name for Mulder’s ongoing investigations into unexplained activity and the paranormal) have been officially closed. It isn’t long before a series of strange events--including a bombing and the mysterious death of a young boy in North Texas who stumbles into a cave filled with you-know-what--puts them hot on the trail.
While the alien scenarios and massive government conspiracies spanning 50 years make for fodder that Oliver Stone would relish, the movie nonetheless adapts enough realistic scenarios to draw its case frighteningly close to home. An early sequence depicts the bombing of a federal building in downtown Dallas that seems too eerily reminiscent of the Oklahoma City bombing not to draw immediate comparisons. There are also references to modern fear-inducers like the Ebola virus and AIDS, making the linkage between the movie’s alien/virus conspiracy and real-life virus threats inescapable. There are also plenty of subtle references to Nixonian political cover-ups, including a Deep Throat-like informant named Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) who puts Mulder on the right track.
Director Rob Bowman, who helmed many of the television episodes, expands his palette to fill the movie screen with bigger action, more expansive sets, and of course, rougher language and more intense violence (although The X Files has always pushed the gore boundary on TV--I recall one episode that dealt primarily with decapitated heads). The film effectively ups the ante of sexual tension between Mulder and Scully, who are able to generate real heat only by looking at each other, although Bowman is not as successful with some of the action sequences, which are little more than loud blurs, with pounding sound effects as the only compass to guide us in what’s happening on-screen. Yet, The X Files: Fight the Future is a smart enough thriller to overcome any of its deficiencies. For those who were not avid watchers of the television show, there are enough references to previous events and character traits to keep your head above water. I’ll leave the judgment of how it fares with dedicated “X-philes” to those better equipped than I am.
|The X Files: Fight the Future Blu-Ray|
|This Blu-Ray disc contains both the original theatrical version and an extended version of the film.|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||December 2, 2008|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Not having seen The X Files: Fight the Future since its initial theatrical release in 1998, I was duly impressed with the quality of the image on this 50 GB dual-layer Blu-Ray disc, which makes the film look better than I remember it looking (it is also, I imagine, nothing short of an enormous advance over the previously available nonanamorphic DVD). The high-definition 1080p image brings out excellent detail in the image, whether it be in the dark recesses of an ice cave or atop a building in downtown Dallas. Some shots looked slightly sharper than others, but otherwise the image is about as good as we could expect. The film’s soundtrack has always been one of its strong points, and the lossless DTS-HD 5.1 surround track is extremely impressive, with great sonic detail, directionality, and plenty of floor-rattling low-frequency effects.|
|Taking full advantage of Blu-Ray’s capabilities, one of the cooler aspects of this disc is the “in-movie features,” which allow you to access different supplements with your remote while watching the film. At any point you can bring up a real-time index that lets you know what is available, which includes a new “BonusView” picture-in-picture commentary track by director Rob Bowman, series creator Chris Carter, co-producer and series scribe Daniel Spotnitz, and producer Daniel Sackheim; various “making of” clips; and storyboards and concept art. The disc also has the audio commentary by Bowman and Carter that was featured on the 1999 DVD, as well as an original 26-minute press kit behind-the-scenes feaurette from 1998, which focuses on both the film’s production and its evolution from the television series. The new Blu-Ray supplements include “Blackwood: The Making of X Files: Fight the Future, a 20-minute retrospective featurette that is quite a disappoint since the interviews with director Rob Bowman, series creator Chris Carter, all the principal actors, and special makeup effects artists Alec Gills and Tom Woodruff Jr. are all circa-1998. The 9-minute visual effects featurette, however, as a new interview with visual effects supervisor Mat Beck, who discusses both CGI and practical effects like miniatures, while the 5-minute featurette about the musical score features a new interview with composer Mark Snow, who discusses both his orchestral work for the film and how he came up with the iconic X Files theme. Other supplements include an alternate version of the bee sting sequence, a 3-minute gag reel, three theatrical trailers and the trailer for The X Files: I Want to Believe, and stills galleries of concept art, storyboards, and unit photography.|
Copyright ©2008 James Kendrick
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