Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Only X-Files Review That Really Matters

The new X-Files film got destroyed by Batmania Redux, but at their core the two films address the same root problem- how bad religion, bad politics, radical selfishness and the canonization of materialism have destroyed the heart and soul of Western Civilization, and replaced it with something dead, hard and extremely cold.

The brutal cost-cutting measures at our media outlets have replaced the great movie critics of yesteryear with a bunch of perennial C students willing to work for peanuts- or for nothing. And the appalling mediocrity- and herd mentality- of their thinking has probably steered you towards as many mediocre films as it has with me. And sadly, the ill-informed reviews also steered people away from this film (at least in the theaters, I'm sure this will be well-rented). There are a few real critics (as opposed to reviewers) left, and happily, they have understood a film that isn't about explosions and CGI and car crashes-it's about facing up to the malaise we are all suffering from.

Under the subheadline, "Mulder and Scully aren't just trying in vain to revive a dated franchise. This time, they're in search of a remedy for the spiritual malaise of the West," David Cox writes:

In his film, the message is laid on with what at first seems like excessive and unpersuasive zeal. The wintry Virginia landscape is as unforgivingly frozen as our own faithless world. In enforced retirement, Mulder clings stubbornly to his belief that there are more things in heaven and earth than Horatio dreams of. This leads him to endorse the apparently psychic visions of a paedophile priest, who in turn trusts in God's forgiveness. Scully is the sceptic on all of these counts, but puts her faith in untried medical treatments (she's now a doctor) and the God of the Roman Catholics.

By which of this rag-bag of beliefs are we expected to set store, we ask through much of the action. However, as in the best police procedurals, purport awaits the denouement. It turns out that the priest may be a faker who's in on the crime. Or, he may not. Faith doesn't deliver truth. It doesn't necessarily deliver happy outcomes, either. The fate of the child that Scully is treating remains unresolved.

Where we should actually place our faith turns out to be up to us. The Foxes (20th Century and Mulder) not only challenge the claims of truth, but neglect equally to endorse freedom, justice, religion or the American way. The quest for belief itself, however, is now so serious, apparently, that we mustn't squander it on indulgences, like the extra-terrestrials of the TV show. Faith is the key to fighting crucial battles. We cannot simply duck out of these, since the darkness finds us, not we it. Faith is what preserves our ability to press on in the face of the horror of it all. We must therefore embrace it, not scorn it.

But, of course, I would argue that even Faith itself is no longer useful- we must replace it with Knowledge. Or our civilization is finished.

Entertainment Weekly is getting in on the anti-critic backlash as well.

UPDATE: Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz are not backing down and groveling before the C-Student Mafia for forgiveness.
CARTER: Well first of all we're not a big-budget blockbuster! I mean to be fair, we couldn't have picked a worse week to open in the States. We opened in the shadow of The Dark Knight and so... I mean this is a modest budget movie. It is not a blockbuster movie -- it does not have a lot of the big CG and the big action sequences -- it's a really emotional story that's very, very scary at the same time.