1/8/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox 00079DVD. 1 DVD 118 minute film with extras. Price: £ 2.00 (UK) if you know where to look). stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Blythe Danner and Armin Mueller-Stahl
check out website: www.fox.co.uk
Whenever I settled down to watch 'The X-Files' as a whole, I always have to remind myself where the first movie fits into continuity. Hopefully, now I have it on DVD, I can slot it between seasons five and six and not forget anymore. Considering how much of the back story of the conspiracy thread is in this film, it's an important place not to forget.
The scope of the story goes back to early man and the recognition that both sorts of alien, biped and black oil, have been amongst the human race for a very long time. You would have thought there might have been some sort of pre-emptive removal of mankind before the 20th century and Man's technological development if they were so keen on colonisation. Then again, the evidence here suggests that the biped aliens have as much to fear from the sentient parasitic black oil as the humans, although at least they don't turn into psychotic beasts when it's inside them. Well, mostly, anyway. A personal observation here tends to suggest the black oil has yet to find its ideal host.
The discovery of this undisclosed human/alien burial place in Texas and the subsequent attack on a boy and four firemen ends up with a building opposite the Texas FBI building being blown up to conceal their deaths. Seems a bit drastic considering the other times the Syndicate have just quietly removed people, not to mention the loss of lives had not Mulder, on a hunch, had himself and Scully check the building out after the X-Files department had been forcibly closed down. For their trouble, both agents end up before a committee where they find themselves in the process of being split up and sent to different parts of the country.
It's only Mulder's insistence and from advice from Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (actor Martin Landau) to Scully that they check out the until disclosed committee announcement of the four bodies that they discover it wasn't a terrorist act. Tracking the source back to Texas and a depository housing bees and cornfields that they start to put things together. Inadvertently, Scully takes a live bee with her in her clothing and is later stung, poisoned and becomes comatose. When Scully is kidnapped by ambulance and Mulder shot, tracking her down is only assisted by the Manicured Man (actor John Neville), realising that the Syndicate might have been wrong, who provides him with an untested antidote and Antarctica location. The rest is in the chase as they say. Ultimately, it leads to the re-affirming Mulder's own beliefs and the resurrection of the X-Files section to investigate such matters. This is hardly a spoiler because it would make season six an impossibility without it. I started on Season Six recently and although you could probably watch it without the movie, the conspiracy sub-plot isn't actually in the early episodes so you don't have to pay too much attention to it.
Interesting things to note from this is that this is the second time Mulder has seen a giant UFO, resembling the one in season four when they were investigating the hidden medical records, and Scully just missing out on seeing it herself. There is also a practical demonstration that the vaccine works. Assuming Mulder is keeping note, this is the third time that Scully would appear as an X-File herself.
Probably the biggest oddity is how Mulder and Scully got back to Washington when his snow-cat vehicle ran out of fuel. Don't these FBI agents check how much they've got in their fuel tanks? If I had to offer a solution to this, I suspect in his need to get to Scully, Mulder didn't bother to check to see if there was a spare fuel supply in the back.
The biggest criticism is making Mulder and Scully too lovey-dovey towards each other just because it's in the cinema. Whether show-runner Chris Carter was doing this for the fans or a cinema audience or not is debatable but at least things settled back to normal when it returned to the small screen.
Which brings us to the audio commentary and the classification as a special edition. Although it's noted that its show creator Chris Carter and director Rob Bowman do the audio commentary, neither gentleman were recorded together and so it's more a juxtaposition of them. Carter looks at story specifics and Bowman with the reality of filming and its mechanics. Neither of them announce who they are but it's easy to infer which from their perspective and besides, if you're been watching the extra content from the seasons, Carter is rather easy to recognise. Even so, that aspect could have been a little more friendly.
Carter's insight that SF has to be played real to carry along the audience is something we in the genre recognise, especially when mixing with current reality. It's interesting that he played more with the romantic connection between Mulder and Scully but recognised he could only go so far without risking the upcoming seasons. Probably the biggest revelation to me was the death of the Manicured Man was actually a suicide when I put it down to the Syndicate realising his complicity bumped him off by remote control. Carter also admits that there's a marked difference between the requirements of film against TV series but considering the time frame they were working on for preparation and then the gap between seasons for filming, it still works. No wonder the opening episodes of Season Five were Duchovny and Anderson light as they finishing off the loose ends of the movie.
If you're putting together your X-Files collection together on DVD, you can't ignore the film. It is also significant in that I can't recall any other series, outside of perhaps 'The Man From UNCLE' although theirs were turned into films for the foreign market, before or since doing something of this nature while still in production. Don't forget not to squidge your foot back into any oily substance you find.
Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...
Post your comments
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA