Combining Science and Religion

August 20, 2008 at 6:04 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

After six long years of waiting for the second X-Files movie since the TV series ended in 2002, I must say watching The X-Files: I Want to Believe was all worth the wait. As always, Gillian Anderson’s performance as Dana Scully was impressive. I was blown away with that particular scene where Scully confronts Father Joe (played by Billy Connolly) in his room. Gillian certainly “nailed it.” I could actually feel her frustration over Mulder getting involved again with an X-File case. She’s back to her old Scully self – except now she has gotten weary and reluctant to get involved in solving FBI cases. And Mulder is still very much a believer – not to mention stubborn!

 

X-Files_I Want to Believe alternative poster

Honestly speaking, the movie wasn’t that scary. And this was probably because I’m so used to watching horror movies and reading scary stories that I’m already desensitized by it all! But for some people, some scenes in the movie may still come as gruesome and chilling. For me, the movie is more like a medical thriller. It has enough suspense to keep the story intriguing yet it also has heart. In fact, I Want to Believe is reminiscent of certain X-Files episodes such as “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (which is mentioned in the movie), “All Things,” and “Sanguinarium.” It’s not too dark and terrifying, which is why I guess some fans of the show were put-off by it.

As what Chris Carter (the film’s director and creator of the show) have said before, The X-Files: I Want to Believe focuses more on Mulder and Scully’s relationship rather than the complicated alien mythology/government conspiracy and other creatures of the dark that most people easily identifies this TV show with. In this movie, I see the characters of Mulder and Scully evolved. I see them now as an old couple, comfortable with each other and well-adjusted.

In the last few seasons of The X-Files on TV, Scully eventually became a believer herself and her relationship with Mulder slowly grew from platonic to romantic. She bore a son, William, who might or might not be an alien. In the final episode of the series, Mulder was framed for murder and was on the run. In I Want to Believe, Scully is now working in a Catholic hospital as a doctor while Mulder is still in hiding and spends his time, uh, collecting newspaper clippings on paranormal phenomena. In one poignant scene, Mulder and Scully argue in the hospital and her refusal to acknowledge the psychic powers of Father Joe stems from the fact that she doesn’t want to “look into the darkness” again by helping the FBI solve an X-File case.

It was risky on Chris Carter’s part to delve deeper into the relationship of Mulder and Scully and explore their faith – faith in unexplained phenomena and in each other. He gave a different approach to the movie, which I think worked well.

“Don’t give up.” That’s what Father Joe says to Scully in one scene. It’s a statement that has become some sort of motto not only for Scully but for Mulder as well. I also found the last scene compelling. In it, Scully is asked by one doctor if she is ready to operate on the boy who has an untreatable disease. Several doctors and nurses surround her and three nuns are watching her through the window of the operating room. This scene perfectly depicts the age-old clash between science and religion and Scully’s own struggle with them.

Though I still think there are a few loopholes in the story (e.g., if Mulder was hiding from the FBI through those years, the FBI could’ve easily traced him through Scully [Edit: I recently read the novelization of the movie and this bit was explained in the book. It turned out that Skinner was helping them hide from the bad guys in the FBI.]) and the inside joke about Pres. Bush is kind of corny, and the movie’s subtitle lacked oomph, generally speaking, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a good, intelligent movie – maybe not as good as the episodes of the TV show or the first X-Files movie – but it’s definitely worth watching.

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