Release Date(s)1998 (December 2, 2008)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A
“Take your greatest fear, and multiply it by X...”
FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) fight a lot more than just the future in this, their first outing on the big screen. Arrayed against them are their superiors at the Bureau, a shady global Syndicate, killer bees, a deadly plague virus, and plenty of little green men. Okay, big grey men but you get the idea. We’re talking aliens here and nasty ones at that.
The story goes like this: Mulder and Scully run a poorly-regarded division of the FBI known as the X-Files, investigating the Bureau’s unsolved cases (which often have mysterious or paranormal elements). In the course of that work, they’ve uncovered evidence of a massive government conspiracy to hide the fact that extraterrestrials are here, and have nefarious plans for the Earth. But they’ve gotten too close to the truth, and the bad guys have shut their work at the FBI down. Reassigned to the Violent Crimes division, Mulder and Scully are sent to Dallas in response to a terrorist bomb threat. But when the bomb goes off, destroying a building and killing innocent civilians in the process, guess who’s made to take the fall? That’s right – Moose and Squirrel.
Mulder realizes they’ve been set-up, but can’t prove it... until the mysterious Dr. Kurtzweil (played in fine form by Martin Landau of Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 fame) appears, with word that the victims in the explosion were already dead, their bodies devoured earlier by an unearthly virus, a so-called “plague to end all plagues.” Armed with this information, Mulder and Scully risk their careers, and their lives, in a desperate race to uncover the truth – one more shocking than they could ever have imagined and which threatens the very survival of the human race.
As you readers from outside the U.S. have probably realized, we Americans seem to have a very healthy paranoia when it comes to our Government. Don’t ask me why, but in a country with wide personal liberty, Americans tend to protect their freedoms with almost blind zeal. It’s this paranoia that explains the popularity of The X-Files, I think – the show plays into everyone’s fears. And let’s face it… the paranormal is just plain fun.
As a fan of the TV series, I was quite pleased with The X-Files: Fight the Future. Some have said that it wasn’t as big or grand as it should have been, but that’s not what X-Files has ever been about. The series is cerebral, and what you don’t see is far more important than what you do. It’s about intangibles – mysteries that never quite get solved (or if they do, result only in bigger and deeper mysteries). Compare The X-Files to classic film noir or old Twilight Zone and you’re in the right ballpark. In that light, The X-Files: Fight the Future delivered more than I expected. It managed to satisfy most fans of the series and, while it wasn’t a huge blockbuster, just about anyone could watch this film and get what was going on. I know this, because several members of my family enjoyed it who were never watchers of the series. The bottom line is that the good guys are clearly good, the bad guys are clearly bad... and there’s aliens. It’s pretty clear who you should be rooting for (unless you’re bent, of course, and decide to root for the aliens).
For this first big screen venture, writer/producer Chris Carter has created a story that spans thousands of years, creating a deadly Earthly (yet still definitely extraterrestrial) threat, older than humanity itself. Fans of the series will immediately recognize familiar characters: Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mulder & Scully’s boss, played by Mitch Pileggi), and the series’ answer to the Three Stooges (conspiracy geeks The Lone Gunman). And of course, there’s a bad guy as bad as Darth Vader himself, the evil Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis). Thrown anew into the mix are Landau, Blythe Danner, Glenne Headly, and Armin Mueller-Stahl among others, and all fit perfectly into this rogue’s gallery of spooks, weirdoes and counter-agents.
The Blu-ray version of this film was released in 2008 and offers very good HD picture quality, with excellent color, spot-on blacks, and good detail. It’s not reference grade material, but it’s a dramatic improvement from the previous DVD editions. Sound is available in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, along with French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital (subtitles in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese are here too, as well as English closed captions). Like the image, the DTS mix is of very good quality, if not quite up to par with more recent Blu-ray mixes. The soundstage is big, wide, and immersive, with excellent clarity and good bass.
The Blu-ray carries over virtually all of the extras that were included on the previous DVD editions and much new content too, including both the theatrical cut and extended versions of the film, the original 1999 audio commentary with writer/producer Chris Carter and director Rob Bowman, a new audio commentary with Carter, Bowman, Frank Spotnitz, and Dan Sackheim, a new BonusView picture-in-picture commentary with Carter and Bowman, an alternate version of the infamous “bee sting ” scene, the Blackwood: The Making of The X-Files featurette, Visual Effects and Scoring featurettes, the original 1998 Making-Of featurette, a gag reel, still galleries, and all three of the theatrical trailers that were created for the film. The disc is also enabled for use with D-Box motion control systems (for those of you who have one in your home theater). The only thing that’s not here (and that I would really have liked) is a commentary with Duchovny and Anderson, talking about their characters and their experience on the film. That’s picking nits though – these extras are certainly more comprehensive that those on the previous DVDs and should definitely satisfy most X-Files fans.
The X-Files: Fight the Future is, in my opinion, a completely entertaining film. Non-fans should have no trouble wading into the story, and fans of the series should be plenty happy. The Blu-ray edition delivers very good video and audio quality, and a wealth of extras both old and new. Fans with the original DVD will have to ask themselves if it’s worth upgrading to Blu-ray, but the disc is so cheap at this point that the decision should be easy. This is just fun stuff. By the way... did I mention there’s aliens?
- Bill Hunt