The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

More than 25 years have gone by since the first X-Files movie, The X-Files: Fight the Future, was released. It’s time for it to be revisited

The X-Files: Fight the Future (watch it HERE). Mulder and Scully on the big screen. That’s it. Need I say more? After 119 episodes, a movie was inevitable. While Chris Carter was happy with the success that the show had generated, he wanted to make more x-philes. Carter saw the movie as an opportunity to reach an even wider audience and make any skeptics true believers, but also reward current fans. Crafting a feature film also meant the ability to be able to dive deeper into the alien mythology that the series had been slowly weaving.

Making the leap from the small screen to the big screen was quite the undertaking. Carter explained that since they had been writing mini-movies, creating a full-length feature film felt like the next logical progression. Juggling the production of 24 episodes for The X-Files and another 24 for the spin-off Millennium was no easy feat. So, Carter and his partner-in-crime, Frank Spotnitz, decided to hunker down in Hawaii over Christmas break to hash out the story. Once they had the blueprint in place, Carter spent about two weeks pouring his heart into writing the screenplay draft. What I particularly enjoy about this part of the story is how Carter and Spotnitz stuck to their tried and true method of using 3×5 index cards for storyboarding. When it came to the screenplay, Carter managed to churn out half of the 124-page script in just 10 days. Wow. It’s impressive, isn’t it? Being fully immersed in that world day in and day out, coupled with the excitement of expanding the mythology, undoubtedly fueled his swift progress.

Quite a bit of effort went into shrouding the movie, codenamed Project Blackwood, in secrecy. Scripts were printed on red paper to prevent copying or Xeroxing, as they’d say in the 90s. Despite the creators insisting it had no significant meaning, fans still managed to decipher it anyway. Additionally, a ton of misinformation about the ending and the story itself was spread to keep everyone guessing.

The movie serves as a bridge between the end of season five and beginning of season six. The X-Files have officially been shut down, and Mulder and Scully have to act according to protocol. Yawn. Been there, done that. Nothing is going to stop Spooky Mulder from continuing to be Spooky– not even mundane FBI work. With that said, let’s find out if we were prepared, or had been prepared, to Fight the Future.

The X-Files: Fight the Future

The movie plays like a bigger budget episode of the series, but a regular episode nonetheless. This extra special episode commences in North Texas around 35,000 B.C., where two cavemen hunters are seen sprinting uphill amidst the snow. They find themselves deep in a cave with some not so friendly alien life forms. What does this lead to? Nothing good. Both cavemen meet a terrible fate– one is killed and the other one is infected with some seriously deadly black goo. Cut to 1998 and little Lucas Black has fallen into the same cave and inevitably meets a similar fate. When the firefighters show up to save him, it’s that moment in all horror films when you know a group of people shouldn’t go into a dark scary cave, but they do! Enter our sci-fi protocol and the guys in the hazmat suits come in, take the bodies, and pretend like nothing happened.

Cut to Terry O’Quinn’s “We won’t get fooled again” moment as he confidently strides onto the screen portraying Special Agent Darius Michaud, tasked with leading the investigation into a bomb threat in Dallas, home of conspiracy theories. While Quinn’s screentime here isn’t the longest, he continues to prove that just his presence at times is rather commanding. Don’t feel bad though– Quinn is a frequent visitor to the land of the X-Files and even its crossover, Millennium. But who’s here to support John Locke and everyone’s favorite Stepfather? Scully enters first, followed by Mulder two minutes later, engaging in banter during what rapidly evolves into a highly serious event. Yes, as we covered before the X-Files have been disbanded and Samantha Mulder’s file was burnt to a crisp. When Mulder and Scully find out that the building across the street is the one with the actual bomb, Scully takes charge. No, this is not merely a footnote, but a major highlight. Scully isn’t fucking around. Gillian Anderson took cues from the character of Clarice Starling and shaped Dana Scully into a sci-fi icon, undoubtedly ranking her among the top 5 female television characters of all time. That’s not just a personal take– it’s basically common knowledge at this point.

After the building explodes, rest in pieces special agent Terry O’Quinn, Scully and Mulder find themselves on trial as the government scrambles to assign blame quickly, specifically citing the Oklahoma City bombing for their reasoning. But wait, why is it the fault of Scully and Mulder? Well, the government claims 3 firemen and a young boy were found dead in the building. BACK THE TRUCK UP. Exsqueeze me, baking powder? How weird that’s the exact same total of bodies found in the extraterrestrial f*ckery cave. This is only proven by Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil, played by the magnificent Martin Landau, who spends a good deal of the movie dropping little tidbits to Mulder. Landau is a perfect fit for this part and you almost think maybe his character was always a part of the series.

Oh, while all this is going on, the Cigarette Smoking Man played by legend of legends, William B. Davis, has flown into North Texas to observe if a vaccine will cure the alien virus. If it doesn’t, oh well, just burn the body. Davis only amps up the coldness of his character. This movie would not be complete without him, or Mitch Pileggi as Agent Skinner to which I always have to say, “It’s Skinner” every time I see him on screen.

This whole time you’ve had a loose hang on what is actually going on. It isn’t until Mulder and Scully take their trip back to Texas at 3 AM that we’re hitting warp speed. After a visit back to the original extraterrestrial f*ckery cave and a brief chat with Lucas Black’s friends, the duo follow the route of a train carrying some gas and then head first into a cornfield where they run into some bright tents in the middle of nowhere. It’s Texas. We’ve got a lot of that here. After entering the tent and Mulder touching stuff, vents open and unleash bees upon both of them. And we’ve made it to the kiss that never happens thanks to a hitchhiking bee.

In a deleted scene, Mulder and Scully finally kiss passionately in Mulder’s hallway. They didn’t leave that in the movie. But it’s free to watch on the internet as many times as you want. There’s always someone chiming in about this scene, especially since it’s been a hot topic among shippers and non-shippers for a while now. *coughs* The almost kiss is nearly as joyful as the actual one, but we cut for a bee sting? I mean, yeah, good opportunity to get things moving and to get us all bunched up for several reasons but that bee sting is one that fans will never forget. I will never forgive Frank Spotnitz for being so smug.

To this point, the biggest sell of the series aside from monsters of the week and alien autopsies was the natural chemistry between Anderson and David Duchovny. I’m going to fangirl here for a quick second: when Duchovny delivers the line, “I owe you everything, and Scully, you owe me nothing” it’s so genuine and lovely, and frankly, I become hypnotized. It’s Duchovny for crying out loud! Okay, getting back on track, even at the weirdest, most over the top moments, the star crossed lovers always sell it. I mean, you guys saw some of the episodes of the latter seasons, right? That’s not a critique, merely an observation.

The X-Files: Fight the Future

After the sting of the century, Scully is kidnapped and taken away, but not before Mulder is shot and left for dead in the middle of the street. When Mulder awakens, he opens his eyes and we see the Lone Gunmen *squee* to which Mulder of course makes a smart ass comment. With the help of the Lone Gunmen and Skinner, Mulder escapes the hospital and on the way out gets the vaccine from the Well Manicured Man along with the location to where they took Scully.

Mulder travels to Antarctica and finds Scully entombed in a seriously weird capsule. He gives her the vaccine and they both make their way out. This disrupts the deep sleep of one of the aliens, and to quote Arnie, it is one ugly motherf*cker. We’ve gotta give major credit to the effects here and throughout the movie. The X-Files have always delivered in terms of effects, and there’s a list of episodes within the series that supports this. The movie gets to accomplish this on a grander scale as intended. The location scenes, along with the helicopter chase in the cornfield, this is big budget X-Files and we deserved it. This is also all thanks to our director, Rob Bowman, who we should all be well acquainted with.

Mulder and Scully escape and before Scully awakens, Mulder observes a rather gargantuan alien spacecraft blast from beneath the ice and then disappear as soon as it appears. Scully missed it and would likely have joked that it was a weather balloon. The spacecraft isn’t all that convincing, but it is 1998 so I think we can forgive it. I mean, we are being asked to suspend our disbelief here, right?

After getting Scully back safely, a final committee meeting is held. Blythe Danner, who is always selling that snooty lady commentary, is ready to full on deny any of Scully’s findings along with any and all evidence in Texas. This is, until Scully presents her with the bee that stung her and basically says, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of division that could look into this?” Mic drop moment, and Scully is out looking for Mulder. Mulder is about to give it all up after reading in the paper that everything in Texas is being covered up. Again, classic Mulder. Scully gets the band back together by throwing Mulder’s words back at him: “If we give up, they win.”

The X-Files are now open again. The Cigarette Smoking Man has more work to do.

The X-Files: Fight the Future

Upon reviewing X-Files for At the Movies, Gene Siskel gave praise to the movie but stated that the story needed a prequel, a sequel, and cliffs notes. What Siskel didn’t know is that’s a typical night with the series itself, but his observation was pretty on the nose. Carter wanted to bring viewers into the world of the X-Files without alienating them. I unapologetically love this movie even though what Siskel said is basically the biggest flaw/fault. If we want to pinpoint this as the time when the X-Files went off the tracks then we need to seriously have a sit down.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the soundtrack for the film. At the time of its release, several outlets that may or may not be competitors had ranked the album as abysmal or not weird enough. I think they missed the mark and maybe the entirety of the 90s especially the late nineties. If The Cure, Bjork, Filter, Soul Coughing, Better Than Ezra, Tonic, and Ween are not eclectic enough for you then you’ve been living in a crater on a remote asteroid. The highlight here is absolutely, the reworked version of Foo Fighters Walking After You. The video and song perfectly score the relationship between Mulder and Scully. And also, as we all know, Dave Grohl did in fact derive the name of his band from the World War II term for UFOs.

Fight the Future was released in 1998 and performed moderately well at the box office. It grossed over $189 million worldwide against a production budget of approximately $66 million. While it didn’t break any records, it was considered a success, especially considering its cult following and the popularity of the series. The home video release added to this and brought more fans to the fold. I’m pretty certain that almost every other home had the movie on VHS or DVD.

While this wasn’t the first film to transition from TV to the big screen, it was a pioneer of sorts. While earlier movies like Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Brady Bunch Movie had made the leap, The X-Files capitalized on its TV series’ popularity in a significant way. It continued the storyline fans loved on a larger scale, setting a precedent for other TV series to follow suit in the future like Serenity or El Camino.

I may never be the biggest X-Files nerd of all time. I envision a guy with a ponytail in front of a computer, sporting an early X-Files shirt – an image that I could swear I once stumbled upon online at one point. Perhaps it’s a Mandela effect, perhaps it’s Langley, or perhaps it’s Graeme Barrett. Though reality may blur with fiction, and the truth is indeed still out there, I’ll never be as cool as the image of that guy. In the end, the X-Files movie was everything it needed to be, and we, the fans, were quite content with our reward.

Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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