One of the best transitions ever for a TV show to feature film. Directed with style and smarts by series veteran Rob Bowman. Fantastic widescreen cinematography from underrated shooter Ward Russell (Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout), who utilized a rich color palette and took full advantage of the excellent locations chosen for the story. Absolutely loved the Neanderthal Man opening sequence with the first alien encounter – raw, nasty, primal, and scary. Series mastermind Chris Carter took full advantage of the inherently cinematic possibilities with his iconic material, and along with Frank Spotnitz and undoubtedly many others, crafted a fabulous continuation of the central alien mythology plot-line, while beefing everything up visually and thematically. I’ve gone back to this movie for years, not just out of my love for The X-Files in general, but because, on its own, it’s a damn good movie. Fine, some of it is a bit impenetrable to the casual viewer or non-fan, but even in those instances, the gripping set pieces, tremendous production design, and excellent performances should alleviate any concerns.
Bowman throws in nods to various political thrillers from the 70’s, most notably Alan Pakula’s masterpiece The Parallax View, and all throughout, there’s an unnerving vibe present, from the ominous back-room deals with the Syndicate, to the sub-Antarctic government base that forms the absolutely smashing action-oriented finale. All of the regular faces from the TV show are present in the film, while the filmmakers brought in some excellent supporting players like Martin Landau, Armin Mueller Stahl, Blythe Danner, and Terry O’Quin. The opening domestic terrorism bombing sequence is rivetingly staged, while the mid-film action sequence inside the dual domes out in those corn stalks is expertly shot, cut, and directed. And when those bees are released, the scene kicks it up a further notch. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were at their best here as Mulder and Scully, and their “almost-kiss” moment was one of the absolute best moments in the series. Everything about this movie clicked (which you can’t say for the decade later follow up, The X-Files: I Want to Believe), and I am eagerly anticipating the return of the TV series when it drops at the beginning of 2016. I just really hope that the central narrative beats pivot off of the extraterrestrial angle that the show is famous for.