Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh, and I *SO* Wanted To Believe!

Just been to the press showing of the new X-Files movie.

It was a something of a severe disappointment, sadly.

I mean, it's not dreadful, let's get that straight from the outset.

In fact, it's not only a reasonably competently made movie, it's probably about two-thirds of the way towards being really a rather good one. (The acting for most of the cast is tremendous - in particular Billy Connolly, cast completely against type, who puts in a very worthwhile turn.)

But ... I would hate to be anybody watching that film who had never seen the series. In fact, I'll go further, I would hate to be anybody watching it who didn't have a pretty damned impressive grounding in the series. Like, you know, "having co-written two books on the subject" worth of grounding.

Prosecution Exhibit, Number One: A series of utterly pointless continuity references thrown in about every ten minutes for no obvious plot reason whatsoever. (Sample dialogue: "You've investigated psychics before, Agent Mulder. Like Luther Lee Boggs and Clyde Bruckmann and ..." Queue the guy next to me from The Journal going "huh?!" a couple of times then asking if that was important!) The term "fanwank" is badly misused by many people these days but this is EXACTLY the kind of thing Craig Hinton had in mind when he first popularised the word and its creative limits. A reference placed in a text for no other reason than simply to pleasure fans - and, as a consequence, to baffle the hell out of anybody who has the misfortune not to be a fan. Not, necessarily, a bad thing taken in isolation but, when done repeatedly - and deliberately - taking on the slightly spiteful appearance of crass exclusivity and rank pompousness.

Prosecution Exhibit Number Two: The inclusion of the character of Walter Skinner (played brilliantly, as always by Mitch Pileggi), who appears from absolutely nowhere - and with no prior reference - twenty minutes from the end and with no explanation as to who he is for anybody in the audience that simply doesn't know.

Plus, there is a major subplot about Scully and a little sick boy that is about as wet as a slap in the mush with a haddock and twice as unwelcome. Mawkish in the extreme, it goes on forever. And in a movie that's only just over an hour and a half long, that is not a good thing.

As one of my colleagues at Radio Newcastle - someone who doesn't have a big background knowledge of the series - noted, he came out of the cinema thinking "Is that it?" (He also speculated that, despite his limited knoweldge of the show, he considered the movie to be "a not very good - or particularly representative - episode of the series stretched out to movie length." I couldn't have put it better myself.)

Still, at least Duchovny seemed to put his heart and soul into the thing this time. That - just about - managed to wipe out the bad taste of his various "do I have to do these episodes?" appearances in seasons seven and eight. Anderson's had (many) better days but she's decent enough in it. Like I say, the acting isn't the problem...

Ah well, at least The Dark Knight was great!

Meanwhile, in other news, it's Too Damn Hot.

That is all.