The X-Files: I Want to Believeand the unexplained word spacing in Step Brothers aren't the worst movie titles this summer. Those would be Young People Fucking and American Teen. Only old people use the term "young people." White People Fucking would have been more representative. And the delusion of encompassing a generation in the title American Teen is as noxious as the faked outrage if it were called American Teens Fucking.
The first-person earnestness of the phrase I Want to Believe is initially embarrassing, but unlike those other movie names, it indicates something sincere. It's been 10 years since FBI paranormal investigators Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) had their last big-screen outing. The option of doing another one now---years after the cult Fox series cancellation---should have been a bigger event. The opportunity was right to make this the ultimate X-Files movie, full of on-the-edge alien encounters at the brink of night, cosmic revelations and major character arcs---everything great about the show taken to the 10th power. I Want to Believespeaks not just to the waning faith of the heroes, but the skepticism of the X-Files fan base. But to what end? The movie's great offense is that it isn't much of anything at all.
Series creator Chris Carter directs with the robotic laziness of an episode you never watch twice. It's small-scale and charmless. The investigation of frozen human body parts in Virginia, looking more like Vancouver than ever, hasn't the wonder or dread of substantial science fiction fantasy. The talkiness has no wit. It's strictly a movie for people wanting more resolve in Mulder and Scully's relationship, and it plays out like a sterile soap opera.Granted, it was easier to tell engaging conspiracy stories in the '90s. Since the World Trade Center's collapse brought too many of these people out of the woodwork, government cover-up fiction now just feels opportunistic. But with the paranormal thrill also gone, The X-Files: I Want to Believe doesn't honour its brand name. It doesn't contain a single standout sequence.