Tuesday, January 13, 2009

… one of the finer big screen adaptations of any television show.

...no, the author of this article didn't mean I Want To Believe, but Fight The Future. Read here a blu-ray review from dvdtown.com

Blu-ray REVIEW
By Dean Winkelspecht

X-Files, The: Fight the Future
Blu-ray - APPROX. 122 MINS. - 1998 - US Rating: PG-13

The X-Files film hit theaters during the summer of 1998 as a bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons of the cult television series. I had never been a fan of the television show and had only known two things in relation to the Fox television show. I knew the names of the main characters and I knew that Gillian Anderson was a nerd´s fantasy girl. I admit it. I thought she was hot. A very good friend of mine, Jeff Hoffman, was a very big fan of the show and this was one of his must see films of the year and he was able to convince me to go along in a small group to watch the film and he promised to fill me in on anything I needed to know while we watched the film. For instance, who is the guy smoking the cigarettes? I seem to remember Jeff luring me into the theaters by promising Gillian Anderson would be in lingerie in the film. It worked.

I can recall a few moments a decade ago during the screening of this film and I do remember enjoying the storyline and characters a great deal. I knew next to nothing about Fox Mulder and had incorrectly assumed he was just another boring television nerd. That changed when the film showed him urinating on a poster for "Independence Day" and it may have been that very moment when I quickly realized I had missed the train for the "X-Files" television show and it would have been something I would have greatly enjoyed. However, after already missing the first five seasons it seemed a little too late to jump onboard and I can remember feeling a little chagrin sitting in that theater seat because the movie was a lot of fun and Mulder and Scully were wonderful characters that said and did things that easily made me smile. And yes, Gillian Anderson was hot.

The film instantly subjects its viewers to the strong held X-Files mythology in alien existence with a scene depicting a caveman coming into conflict with an alien. It quickly fast forwards to modern times and begins the well written storyline and a young boy (Lucas Black) is quickly overtaken by a mysterious black oil that was apparently a familiar plot device on the television show. At this time in the X-Files timeline the two FBI agents have been re-assigned from the X-Files and are now under the charge of John Locke (Terry O´Quinn) and a bomb discovered by Mulder explodes and innocent lives are lost (pun intended). The two agents return to Washington D.C. and both come under fire for some lives being lost in the building and it is determined that they will be evaluated and decisions will be then made for their further career in the FBI.

The already intriguing story becomes more interesting when screen veteran Martin Landau is introduced as Dr. Kurtzweil and it is revealed to Mulder that the bomb was allowed to explode to hide the true reason for the deaths of the four innocents that were supposedly killed in the blast. Mulder soon discovers that the four bodies were subjected to something that caused rapid cellular decomposition and they were not killed in the blast. It is also revealed that the boy was the same boy that fell into a hole and came into contact with the mysterious black oil and the other three bodies were firefighters who had tried to save the boy. When Mulder and Scully investigate the background to the boy and the firefighters they find a mysterious new park has been erected over the hole where the boy came into contact with the black oil and a convoy of trucks that uncover two very large domes in the middle of an unusual cornfield.

From this point the story and plot become a little heavy and those unfamiliar with X-Files canon can easily become lost. It is a very well told tale featuring the iconic characters and I´m very thankful to have had a friend sit with me and help explain things to fill in the details I was not privy to as a non-watcher of the long running show. Some familiar faces from the show make appearances and Mulder is sent to Antartica to look for a cure to save Scully after she had been stung after visiting the two cornfield domes. Mulder uncovers evidence that the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man had knowledge of alien existence for quite some time and the film offers Mulder aliens in hibernation and a genuine space ship. Of course, only Mulder is able to see the alien ship fly off into space, but this was a monumental moment for the character and provided a box office sized adventure for the television show.

"The X-Files" is an entertaining and adventurous film. The lead characters do an excellent job of bringing their small-screen roles to the big screen and the chemistry and years of practice in the roles is apparent and both David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson are wonderful. I became especially fond of the character of Fox Mulder and liked his approach towards life and his general attitude. I had a tepid interest in the film, but almost immediately I was rewarded with an engaging story that moved quickly and my interest was held throughout the entire picture. I did have some questions, but I could have gotten through the film without answers. There was a lot of background information to cull this two hour picture from and creator Chris Carter did an amazing job of expanding the world of his characters. This is simply a wonderful science-fiction adventure film that crosses genres and provides a little of something for everybody.

In my humble opinion, "The X-Files" is one of the finer big screen adaptations of any television show. It nicely continues the storylines set up within the show, but intensifies everything with a bigger and bolder story. Fans were treated with a kiss between Fox and Dana and the presence of the alien mother ship was another large reveal. The film provided a bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons of the show and from all accounts fits nicely into the canon of the X-Files timeline. The characters are given a far larger playground to investigate the possible existence of aliens and the story and events are accessible enough that non fans of the show could be entertained as well as fans. It surely helped appreciate the depth of the story more with the show´s background information, but not knowing all of the details still provided for a nice stand alone experience. So very often television adaptations fail miserably. This is not one of them.

Where I felt "The X-Files" truly succeeded was in capturing new interest in the show and bringing non-fans into theaters. The film went on to gross nearly $200 million worldwide and I can recall leaving the theater thirsting for more information on Scully and Mulder. Now, I´m not a person to watch television and the only shows I´ve followed religiously since the beginning of time have been "Married with Children," "Greg the Bunny" and "LOST." I didn´t have the time or resources to afford the DVD box sets of the show and kept the notion that one day I would watch every X-Files episode when I had the ability to do so. In spirit I became a fan of the "X-Files," but not in practice. Sooner or later they will be released onto Blu-ray and I will finally sit through the adventures of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.


"The X-Files" is showcased in 2.35:1 widescreen and while it is far better than my non-anamorphic version of the film on DVD, it still felt a little disappointing as I watched the film. The picture quality just does not seem up to snuff when compared to other catalog titles that are not yet in their teen years. Compared to "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" it looked archaic and ancient. The picture looks quite grainy through much of the film, but the level of detail does not appear to be as solid as it should be and the colors look faded. I was anticipating this re-release, and while it is a great improvement over the first DVD release, it may not be too much of a step up over more recent editions. I had watched the film on DVD in preparation to see the sequel and remember the solid black borders around the entire film and having them gone is all that truly made me happy with this release.

There are times in the film when the detail is strong. I felt the bee scene and the corn crops looked good. There were other times when I swore I saw edge enhancement and even a few jaggies. I thought these things were obsolete with Blu-ray, but the truth is out there and I´m telling you this disc is plagued with a few familiar old foes. As I mentioned, the colors looked faded, but part of this is because the film looks so old compared to the sequel. Flesh tones are solid and the picture was average in this area as far as catalog titles go. Black levels were the strong suit of this release and detail never dropped in the darker moments other than times when it seemed like a soft focus lens was causing havoc. While I´m disappointed, this is still far better than my other release, but "The X-Files" should have gotten a little more attention.


At least the soundtrack sounds a little more refined and Mark Snow´s hauntingly familiar score sounds better than it ever has. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does a wonderful job of bringing the big screen adventures of Fox and Dana to life. There is solid sound throughout the film in all five channels. Plenty of discrete effects and ambient sounds fill the rear surrounds and the .1 LFE channel comes happily alive during explosions and other tense moments. There was far more excitement in this film than the sequel and I found myself enjoying the sound of the older film far more than I did the new film. The directional effects did seem a little forced at times, but one area where sound has improved is in mastering the movement between channels. Dialogue is very good and I never had any problems understanding what was being said. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes are also provided as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.


Released concurrently with "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" Ultimate X-Phile Edition, the first "The X-Files" movie contains a very nice number of features that includes the same type of Profile 1.1 features. A digital copy of the film is not included and there are no BD-Live features included to play with. However, the film does ask for the user to choice between the Extended Cut of the film and the Theatrical Version. The longer cut runs for one minute and two seconds longer. The only difference I could spot was the initial sequence with the alien was a little bit longer. I do like that the theatrical version is now available as previous DVD releases were only the extended cut. I´m sure the purists will agree.

The first film finds itself packed with some nice Profile 1.1 features. By selection the extended cut, the Picture-in-Picture Commentary by Rob Bowman, Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and Daniel Stackheim can be viewed. This is the same as the Audio Commentary, but shows a video shot of the four speaking in a PiP window in the lower left of the screen. The commentary track was recorded freshly for this Blu-ray release and I feel it is quite entertaining. Spotnitz and Carter have been the writers and co-creators of the show for a very long time and their friendship is apparent and those that have not seen every episode of the show may find a little education from listening to the commentary. There is a certain degree of nostalgia as they speak, but that is to be expected and never gets annoying.

The video commentary is not the only In-Movie Feature of the Blu-ray release. The four colored buttons allow for switching between the video commentary and three other features. The red button brings up a Real Time Index that shows what features are currently available for the other three buttons and the commentary is constant here. The green button is reserved for the commentary track. Pressing the blue button provides access to the Behind the Camera functionality that is a collection of scene-specific making of clips. These are not PiP based, but causes a temporary pause to the film while the short video is played. The final button is colored yellow for those not in the know and contains Storyboards and Concept Art. These features are identical to the sequel "The X-Files: I Want to Believe."

The Original 1999 Audio Commentary by Rob Bowman and Chris Carter is also included if you would like to skip past the nostalgia and listen to a commentary track that was recorded when the film was still fresh in the head of the director and creator. This commentary track was recorded Criterion style and is chock full of background information, but is not quite as easy to sit through as it is heavily detailed oriented and lacks the camaraderie of the new commentary track. I would only recommend that somebody sits down and listen to the older commentary track if they absolutely love this film and are huge X-File fans. Otherwise, the newer commentary provides very good information and is a lot easier to sit through.

A few other items are also included and much of the content has not previously appeared on older releases. For the first time, an Alternate Bee Sting Scene (2:19) is all about some tenderness and a steamy kiss between Mulder and Scully. Blackwood: The Making of The X-Files: Fight the Future (2008) (19:30) is a new making-of feature that seems to be created from archival material and doesn´t contain any new interviews. Visual Effects (8:49) and Scoring (5:03) are two more brand new inclusions of older material that looks at the making of the film. Some Still Galleries and an X-Files: I Want to Believe Trailer complete the brand new items on this Blu-ray disc.

The carry over footage is fairly slim outside of the running commentary. However, The Making of the X-Files Movie (1998)(26:53) is a far better look at the making of the film than the newly edited one. Much of the same footage is used here, but this is longer and far more detailed and doesn´t seem as ´promotional´ in feel. I´d recommend skipping past the new one and spending a half hour here. A very brief Gag Reel (2:41) and three Theatrical Trailersare the very last items contained on this Blu-ray disc, but the Gag Reel is worth watching one more time as it has a few very funny moments for as short as it is.


It has been nearly a decade since I last sat down and watched this film. Doing so just after watching the far inferior sequel "X-Files: I Want to Believe" showed how well put together "X-Files" was and reminded me that I had missed these characters even though I have never spent too much time with them. I´ve watched many episodes of the television show over the years, but only a fraction of the entire series. I´ll get around to watching them all one day, but this will always be my favorite "X-Files" adventure. The video is a step up from my ancient DVD, which cannot fill my 16x9 television, but it is not as crisp as I had hoped. Sound is very good and the special features are quite good. This film was given a good degree of love, although the newer "X-Files" film is a stunning release in comparison. This is the absolute best version of the film, but it could have been a smidgeon better.

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