Contents Synopsis *** SPOILER ***
Some millennia ago: Some ancient inhabitants of present-day Texas discover a cave but are attacked by something that looks like a Gray alien and acts like an 'Alien' alien. When it dies, it releases black oil. Present time period. A group of boys play on the surface above this spot and one of them fells into a hole, landing in that cave. He discovers a human skull and is infected by the black oil. A rescue operation starts and some firemen are lost. Soon some men in black arrive, starting a cleaning-up operation, recovering the boy and the firemen. Track shift. A search for a bomb at some government building in Dallas finds us with agents Mulder and Scully who were assigned to this job after the X-Files had been closed. They find the bomb in another building, in that which was not the one suspected. But after the evacuation of the building the agent who claims to defuse the bomb just sits in front of it, and it goes off. Later on, the FBI and in especially Mulder and Scully are being blamed for this by an official FBI panel, threatening to transfer them to different locations. Scully thinks about leaving the bureau and Mulder looks deep, deep into a glass. Then he is approached by a man named Kurtzweil who tells him that four bodies had been recovered from the "evacuated" building, but that they had been dead before: Three firemen and a boy.
Initially not believing him, Mulder and Scully check this out - only to find out that the victims have died from an unknown disease, from an unknown infection. Meanwhile, the Syndicate decides to neutralize Mulder by taking Scully away from him. The agents investigate the scene in Texas, finding out that the cleanup-operation had already been completed. But they find someone who leads them to an archaeological site. Scully finds some bone fragments - affected by the virus. They follow the path of the trucks that transported the evidence away and get into a corn field in the desert, far away from civilization, and to two giant tent buildings which form the opening of giant beehives - the deadly ones from 3x24/4x01 and 4x21. When they hastily leave the building, they are hunted by two black helicopters. Back in DC, no one believes them. Scully has been stung by a bee and needs medical help , but the ambulance that's arriving is kidnapping her, sent from the Syndicate, Mulder is shot down.
When in a hospital, he can escape by the help of Skinner and the Lone Gunmen. He wants to speak Kurtzweil but has to find out that he is dead; the Well Manicured Man "invites" him to enter his car and explains to him the situation: That the virus is a biological weapon but also is a way of inocculating the victim with a parasite. The human body is used as a host within an alien grows. The aliens had been on Earth for quite some time, and now they have decided colonization. They activate the hibernating remains of their culture. The Syndicate has to cooperate or it faces destruction, but the Well Manicured Man favors resistance - like he did in 5x14 The Red and the Black. He gives Mulder both the location of Scully and the vaccine, then - after he made Mulder leave the car - he enters it and the car explodes.
Mulder travels to the location - Antarctica - and finds Scully in a container filled with some green fluid, and she is used to grow an alien. But she is just one victim, he sees dozens, perhaps hundreds of hosts. He gives her the vaccine and fres her from the container. This causes an alarm in the system, and CSM - who is trying to stop Mulder - has to evacuate the location. Mulder and Scully escape too, hunted by aggressive Grays that have left their lockups. When they have reached the surface, the underground base is moving upwards - it's a giant UFO - and vanishes. - Somewhere in Tunesia, there is a corn field in the desert and some bee tents. CSM meets Strughold, who seems to be the leader of the Syndicate, and has bad news: The X-Files have been reopened.
A tv show transferred to the movies, that's always something special, but now it's The X-Files - a series that's already somehow different from usual tv style. The show itself is having an atmosphere that's much more looking like that of a movie, so that the movie looks and feels like some kind of extended two-parter. And that's what it is - it's a movie, but it doesn't only belong to the series, it is integrated into the show - sort of series special following the last episode from season five and preceding season six. That's the only problem the film might have - as it presupposes a certain knowledge from the viewer.
Does this pre-knowledge help? It only helps to confuse the confusion - the truth is revealed, yeah, that's true, but as always only in small pieces of the whole, demanding further answers and posing new questions. The movie is the best start a movie series could have. Like every tv episode, it starts with some chilling teaser and then develops slowly, even somehow innocently. At first the Dallas bomb search doesn't seem to fit in, it seems to be like a Bond-like initial action sequence. But then we hear from Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) that there have been some bodies in the exploded building that we seem to know from the beginning of the film. This sudden realization is typical X-Files style, now everything is connected, every piece of conspiracy is being deconstructed.
The movie is not like something one might expect from Star Trek movies, it is not fannish. The obsession of some fans with a love story between Mulder and Scully is kind of being obviously ignored and even played on. And then again, this is The X-Files - a show that is not really pleasant to watch. Every disgusting or cruel or annoying scene of horror created by human beings (although Millennium is even more darker in that respect) would frequently make me think why the heck I would watch something that nothing but created feelings of horror and perhaps paranoia. This is not a movie one exits with a smile, this is not a movie one could consume with an undisturbed detached smile. This is The X-Files, this is about darkness and light, about fate, about really hard stuff. Some people might laugh about it because they don't watch it but just observe the following, the fandom, the cultural impact.
This is not about some silly theories about little green or gray men. This is not about some freaking alien horror story; the only monsters on the screen are the humans who try to gain profit and power from a serious situation. Even those men like Deep Throat or the Well Manicured Man or X or even Mulder's father are killers, murderers - they help Mulder because they have just a small piece of conscience left. This is about a government that cooperates with Nazi scientists, with people who have run death camps and took part in genocide and holocaust. This is about an economy that is only motivated by profit, endangering the lives of animals and humans just for making profit in true Ferengi manner. This is about a society that doesn't any more seem to care. It is not just about America, it is about global tendencies.
Cherish the past - enjoy the present - fight the future: For the truth is coming.
see also: Soundtrack Review
Summary: Nice concept, but lacking depth
First of all, I have to admit that I don't know the comic books, so the movie has been something like my first contact with the concept of the X-Men and I cannot judge it on the basis of the comics, regarding continuity and things like that.
However, as a stand-alone experience, this is simply great - and I don't feel the need for further explanation, so the concept seems to translate to the screen very well, which has to be quite an accomplishment given the history of the comic book series. The characters are given extraordinary depth, and you get to know them and their motivations pretty well, they don't remain comic characters but grow to be real persons - even the bad guy gets a face. This is more than most action films are able to do.
The effects are great, the action is solid, yet somehow, something feels to be lacking. Despite the overall positive impression, the film feels a bit hectic, even though the characters are given so much introduction. But at a certain point of the movie, these introductions end, you get the feeling of "been there, done that", leaving the deeper levels behind and moving on towards the action. This may be correct for dramatical reasons, that after the exposition the conflict has to unfold, but solid drama continues to probe its characters, and it investigates the effect of the conflict upon the persons - do they falter, or do they keep face.
Maybe I'm asking too much, maybe I'm spoiled by movies like 'The Shadow' or the first two 'Batman' films, or the Star Trek films, but I believe that even comic characters can be treated as real characters and not just as ingredients of a story. And especially after the film's exposition, which seemed to live up to that, I came to be somewhat disappointed towards the end - for the film could have been much better, much more solid in terms of drama and story-telling, yet it chose to move towards more or less mindless action scenes. Worst of all, however, is the ending: It is far too directly left open for a probable sequel, and in doing that far too obviously, it creates the impression of being unfinished. That's bad, you can do that much more decently. Furthermore, it seems to indicate that - after the characters have been explored in its first half - the sequel would be pure action, for why probing characters which have been introduced already? The action path, however, is a cul-de-sac, and without depth, it will lead to nothing good - as illustrated by the later 'Batman' films as well as 'M:I-2'.
Yet it cannot be the purpose of this review to speculate about future developments. And as a stand-alone movie, despite all the problems laid out above, 'X-Men' can still be considered to be playing in the upper league of action movies. It is a bit overblown, as comic book adaptations tend to be, and it may be a bit unbalanced and rushy, but it's nevertheless a great action film with solid characters and great looks - and a magnificent Patrick Stewart. While more depth in the rest of the film would have been nice, this is great entertainment, and a perfect guy movie.