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The X-Files: Fight the Future

Film poster
Directed by Rob Bowman
Produced by Chris Carter
Daniel Sackheim
Written by Screenplay:
Chris Carter
Story
Chris Carter
Frank Spotnitz
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Martin Landau
Mitch Pileggi
William B. Davis
Blythe Danner
Armin Mueller-Stahl
Music by Mark Snow
Cinematography Ward Russell
Editing by Stephen Mark
Studio Ten Thirteen Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) June 19, 1998 (US)
July 23, 1998 (AUS)
August 21, 1998 (UK)
Running time 121 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $66,000,000 (est.)
Gross revenue $189,198,313
Followed by The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files (also known as The X-Files: Fight the Future) is a 1998 science fiction-horror-thriller written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Rob Bowman. It is the first feature film based on The X-Files franchise created by Carter. Three main characters from the television series re-appear in the film. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi, reprise their respective roles as Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Walter Skinner. The film's tagline and sub-title is Fight the Future; being commonly mistaken and referred to as The X-Files Fight the Future.

The story follows Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) uncovering what seems to be a government conspiracy attempting to hide the truth about an alien colonization of Earth. If viewed in the context of The X-Files chronology, the film takes place between seasons five and six of the television series, and unlike the second film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, is based upon the series' extraterrestrial mythology.

The film made its opening premiere on June 19, 1998 in the United States. The film was mostly well-received by critics and viewers alike.

Contents

Plot

The film opens in 35,000 BC North Texas during prehistoric times in a wordless sequence. A Neanderthal man stumbles upon what appears to be a large, primal, vicious alien in a cave. The two fight, and the caveman wins, stabbing the alien to death. After a fade to modern-day small-town Texas, a little boy (Lucas Black) falls down a hole in his back yard, and finds a human skull. As he picks it up, black oil seeps out from the ground beneath his feet, and black slivers move up his legs until they reach his head, as his eyes go black. Shortly afterward, a team of firemen descend to rescue him. They are presumably lost to the same fate as the boy. A team of biohazard-suited men in a helicopter, accompanied by several semi-trailers and a man named Ben Bronschweig (Jeffrey DeMunn) descend upon the scene.

In the summer of 1998, at the end of the show's fifth season, the X-Files were shut down, and Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were assigned to other projects. They are first seen assisting Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Darius Michaud (Terry O'Quinn), and his FBI team investigating a bomb threat to a Federal building in Dallas, Texas. When Mulder separates from the team to scout out the building across the street, he discovers the bomb in a first-floor vending machine. While Michaud remains to disarm the bomb, Mulder and Scully are able to evacuate the building and prevent hundreds of casualties before it explodes. It becomes clear to the viewer (but not to the agents) that Michaud makes no effort to disarm the bomb, which ultimately explodes.

Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Mulder and Scully are chastised because four victims were still in the building. They are both scheduled separate hearings in which their job performances will be evaluated. That evening, Mulder encounters a paranoid doctor, Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), who explains that the four victims were already dead, and the bomb was allowed to detonate to destroy the evidence as to how they died.

Mulder enlists Scully to travel with him to the morgue to examine the bodies. They find out that all four victims were dead before the explosion. Mulder leaves Scully in the morgue to fly back to Dallas to investigate evidence left from the explosion. Going back to the Texas crime scene, they follow a team of tanker trucks to a large cornfield surrounding two bright, glowing domes. When they infiltrate the domes, they find simply a large empty space. However, grates on the floor open up, and a thick swarm of thousands of bees chase the agents into the cornfield. Soon black helicopters fly overhead, and the two make a harrowing escape back to Washington.

Upon their return, Mulder—finding the evidence disappearing rapidly—unsuccessfully seeks help from Kurtzweil, while Scully attends her performance hearing and learns that she is being transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah. She informs Mulder that she would rather resign from the FBI than be transferred. Mulder is devastated at the thought of not having Scully as a partner to help him uncover the truth. The two have a tender moment, until Scully is stung by a bee which had lodged itself under her shirt collar. She has an instant adverse reaction, and Mulder calls for emergency help. However, when an ambulance arrives to transport her, the driver shoots Mulder in the head, and whisks Scully to an undisclosed location. The real ambulance pulls to the scene moments later as the scene fades to black. Mulder awakens in a hospital being told the bullet grazed his temple, and with the help of The Lone Gunmen, sneaks out. He is accosted by The Well-Manicured Man, who gives him Scully's location in Antarctica, along with a weak vaccine to combat the virus she is infected with. The Well-Manicured Man then kills his driver and himself before his betrayal of the Syndicate can be discovered.

Mulder journeys to Antarctica to save Scully, and in the process, discovers a massive underground secret lab run by the Cigarette Smoking Man and his colleague Conrad Strughold. Mulder revives Scully with an injection of a vaccine, disrupting the stable environment of the lab and reviving the cocooned aliens. The lab is destroyed just after they escape to the surface, when an alien ship lying dormant underneath it leaves its underground port launching into the sky. Scully is unconscious while the ship flies directly overhead, and Mulder wakes her in time to allow her a hazy view of the craft disappearing in the distance. It is unclear whether Scully in her weakened state, discerned anything.

Later, Mulder and Scully attend a hearing where their testimony is routinely ignored, and the evidence covered up. The only remaining proof of the whole ordeal is the bee that stung Scully, collected by The Lone Gunmen. She hands it over, noting that the FBI does not currently have an investigative unit qualified to pursue the evidence at hand. Later, on a bench along The National Mall in Washington, Mulder is appalled by the media cover-up of the entire incident, and tries to persuade Scully to leave his crusade. Scully refuses noting; "if I quit now, they win".

At another crop outpost in Tunisia, Strughold is given a telegram by the Cigarette-Smoking Man. The telegram informs them that The X-Files have been reopened.

Cast and characters

Production

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Conception and pre-production

"We wanted it to be true to the TV show, for one thing. We didn't want The X-Files to become something else in the movie, just because we had a bigger budget to work with. Yet, we were also mindful that it had to be a culmination of something for the people who had been watching the show for five years, as well as an introduction of these characters and this story to people who hadn't."
Frank Spotnitz talking about the development of The X-Files film.[1]

After five successful season, The X-Files would meet its peak during the fifth season. Chris Carter wanted to tell The X-Files story on a bigger canvas, which ultimately meant creating a feature film. He went on to explain; the main problem was to create a story were you did not need to be familiar with the shows setting and the various of story arc's.[2]

Carter and Frank Spotnitz wrote major parts of the script in Hawaii during Christmas. They used the same method they had used when writing episodes and sketching out scenes for the series on 3x5 index cards. By the time Christmas break had ended, the entire narrative of the show was written. When returning from Hawaii, Carter looked for spare time for writing the script. He returned to Hawaii and used ten days to write about half of the 124-page long screenplay for the film.[3]

The nearly completed screenplay was than turned over to Fox where it was "enthusiastically" received. While not officially greenlighted, the film was given a budget and plans were set up as to when and where it would be filmed. Daniel Sackheim was then brought up to produce the film by Carter. Sackheim had previously produced the pilot episode of The X-Files and returned to direct several episodes in the two first seasons. The X-Files marked the first feature film Sackheim had produced. Carter's second choice was to hire Rob Bowman as the director, Bowman was the executive producer and member of the director staff before the shows move to Los Angeles, California.[4]

During the making of the film, the filmmakers went to great lengths to preserve secrecy, including printing the script on red paper to prevent photocopying, and leaking disinformation to the media as it was given the codename: Project Blackwood. The codename was eventually breached by X-Philes (fans of The X-Files). Various fans thought the codename had something to do with the film, which led to hundreds of widespread debates over the internet. Eventually, Frank Spotnitz announced that Blackwood was just "a name" and had nothing to do with the film, saying it could as well have been named "Project Black".[5]

At the beginning of the pre-production phase, Carter and Bowman were busy with the series, which meant Sackheim was working alone with the film. Sackheim hired executive producer Lata Ryan, who had previously worked with Steven Spielberg on Jurassic Park. After being hired, Ryan was allowed to read the script under the "watchful eyes" of the Ten Thirteen Productions staff members. At this time, most of the staff members had not read the script for themselves. After Ryan accepted the offer on becoming the executive producer, Chris Nowak was hired as the production designer, Ward Russell as the Director of Photography and Bill liams as the Construction Coordinator among other key personnel. According to Ryan, they were enabled in securing all key personnel in six weeks.[6]

Writing and casting

Landau was among the film's well-known stars

Both Carter and Spotnitz wanted to make the film "bigger" than the series, so they decided to start and end the film at an "extreme place" and explain aspects of the story arc which the show "hadn't". When gathering various research materials, they found out that the Earth was covered with ice and decided to open the film in Texas, United States in 35,000 BC with a Neanderthal taking the lead.[7]

While the feature film included known actors from the show such as David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner and William B. Davis as the Cigarette Smoking Man, the show also introduced new actors and characters to the franchise. These included known actors like Martin Landau and Blythe Danner. The signing of these actors broke with what had become tradition for The X-Files. Carter had purposly casted virtually unknown actors for the show, saying the show could only be as "scary as it is believable." Further continuing; "As soon as you put in an actor whose face is very recognizable, you've got a situation that works against the reality of the show." But Carter saw it as a chance to break the rule when creating the film.[8]

Set design

Chris Nowak was hired as the Production Designer for the film by Daniel Sackheim. Nowak was a former architect who had worked as a professional theater set designer for eight years, before moving towards the film business as an Art Director. Nowak had previously worked with Sackheim on a television production, which led to Sackheim contacting him to do an interview for the selection of a Production Designer. Nowak had never served as a Production Designer for a feature film. According to Sackheim, Nowak was hired because he was the only one able to create "a focused vision" of what the film was going to be like.[9]

Nowak wanted to start the design process after talking through the story with the filmmakers so that he could formulate "a sense of the atmosphere" which they wanted to create for the film. He wanted to create a "dark, scary and oppressive environment" for the characters, especially Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). While familiar with the television show, Nowak decided not to review any of The X-Files episodes as a means of preparing for the film. Explaining why he choose not to review the series, he explained "I wanted the movie to be as fresh and new as possible in its design. Of course, there were some elements from the show that had to be retained."[9]

The design department had only eight weeks to "find all the locations" and to "conceive the sets." Through the eight weeks, the design department was guided with input from the filmmakers. Nowak started with creating artwork for all the major sets and locations, working with the two concept artists Tim Flattery and Jim Martin. Nowak would create "rough sketches" and then send them to Flattery and Martin who would keep on developing them until they were complete. The complete artwork was then presented to Chris Carter, Rob Bowman, Lata Ryan and Sackheim for approval. While considering the time schedule, they never made any notable changes to the artwork.[9]

Once the set concepts was approved by Carter, Bowman, Sackheim and Ryan, they were sent to the blueprint stage so that construction of the sets could begin. Bill Liams was the Supervision of Construction Coordinator. All the major sets were constructed "simultaneously" because of the schedule. However, the production staff was against it, because it meant they had to pay the rent on all the stages at once. The set construction started seven weeks before filming.[9]

Filming

Not only could I not have directed the movie as well as Rob Bowman [...] I didn't have the time to even attempt to direct the movie as well as Rob Bowman. Rob is a very collaborative person; and I thought that working with him collaboratively was a much wiser way to approach this than to try to do it myself."
— Carter talking about choosing a director for the film.[5]

Chris Carter and Rob Bowman wanted to film in as many different locations as possible to give the film a "grander" feel than what they usually had when producing the show.[2][7] Principal photography for the film started on June 16, 1997.[5]

The X-Files was filmed in the hiatus between the show's fourth and fifth seasons and reshoots were done during the filming of the show's fifth season, which meant that some episodes of that season did not revolve around Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) but just one of the two, because they were filming scenes for the film.[10]

Music

Mark Snow who had worked for the series as a composer, was hired to compose the score for the film. Chris Carter wanted a "very minimal approach" to the music. He did not want much "melody" and wanted to replace it with plain "ambient atmosphere" and "sound design". Snow mixed electronic music with an 85-large orchestra to give it a "great sense of scope and grandeur."[2]

When creating the music for the film, Snow had a couple of months to write and produce the music, while he created the music for the television show simultaneously. The film marked the first time the music for the franchise was composed and recorded with help from an orchestra. While according to Snow, the recording and writing process didn't change during the making of the film. The biggest difference was that he used MIDI file's to save his musical scores and pieces, which would afterword go to a copyist who would take it through one of their programs and eventually give it to the orchestrators.[11]

Release

Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% of 68 listed film critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6 out of 10. The website wrote of the critics' consensus; "Results may vary for newcomers, but fans of the series will enjoy its big-screen transition."[12] The film had a lower approval rating with the 15 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' "Cream of the Crop", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs,[13] receiving a 53% approval rating.[14] Within the Rotten Tomatoes community, it was reported that over 80% of the 500 members gave the film a positive review.[15]

Roger Ebert gave a positive review of the film with three out of four stars, saying, "As pure movie, The X-Files more or less works. As a story, it needs a sequel, a prequel, and cliff notes."[16] Joyce Millmann of Salon magazine was more equivocal, saying; "... You really can't treat "The X-Files" as a movie because it isn't one. It's a two-hour episode of the show," and said it was far from the "most satisfying" X-Files releases.[17] San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Bob Graham was positive towards the film, calling "David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson [...] enormously sympathetic heroes"[18] Michael O'Sullivan, a reviewer from The Washington Post called the film, "Stylish, scary, sardonically funny and at times just plain gross."[19]

The Los Angeles Times reviewer Kenneth Turan felt it was hard to make sense of it all, being that the film relied too heavily on the series mythology.[20] Lisa Alspector said that "Only two scenes in this spin-off are worth the time of followers of the TV series."[21] Variety magazine reviewer named Todd McCarthy said "As it is, pic serves up set-pieces and a measure of scope that are beyond TV size but remain rather underwhelming by feature standards"[22] Janet Maslin from The New York Times acted negative towards the film, saying it was uneventful and the "hush-hush atmosphere" around the film was a big joke.[14]

Sequel

The X-Files has spawned one sequel, a 2008 film entitled The X-Files: I Want to Believe released six years after the series cancellation. The film performed modestly at the box office[23] and was less well received than the first film.[24] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chris Carter said that if I Want to Believe proved successful, he would propose that a third movie go back to the television series' mythology and focus on the alien invasion foretold within the series, due to occur on December 22, 2012.[25]

Home media

The two soundtracks, The X-Files: Original Motion Picture Score[26] and The X-Files: The Album were both released to home markets in 1998. The X-Files: The Album included the original theme song, "The X-Files" and included a hidden track where Chris Carter details a summary of the The X-Files mythology.[27] The same year as the international theatrical release, the film was released on VHS.[18] The film made its first appearance on DVD on January 24, 2000 in Region 2.[28] The film was at the beginning of 2001 in Region 1 in the United States.[29] Producer Frank Spotnitz announced plans to release a new Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray Edition of the movie. "We are working on packing the [re-issued] DVD and Blu-ray releases with as many extras as they will fit, including video and audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers, trailers, a new documentary, and several other cool surprises." The Blu-ray was released on December 2, 2008.[30]

References

Notes

  1. ^ Duncan 1998, pp. 4.
  2. ^ a b c Carter, Chris, Spotnitz, Frank, Bowman, Rob, Duchovny, David, Anderson, Gillian, Pileggi, Mitch, Sackheim, Daniel, Paris, David, Lombardi, Paul, Epstein, John, McLaglen, Josh, Beck, Mat, Wash, John and Snow, Mark. (1998). The Making of The X-Files Movie. [DVD]. FOX Home Entertainment.  
  3. ^ Duncan 1998, pp. 4-5.
  4. ^ Duncan 1998, pp. 5-6.
  5. ^ a b c Duncan 1998, pp. 6.
  6. ^ Duncan 1998, pp. 6-7.
  7. ^ a b Carter, Chris and Bowman, Rob. (1998). Audio commentary for The X-Files. [DVD]. FOX Home Entertainment.  
  8. ^ Duncan 1998, pp. 9.
  9. ^ a b c d Duncan 1998, pp. 7.
  10. ^ Carter, Chris, Gilligan, Vince, Shiban, John, Haglund, Dean, Manners, Kim, Bowman, Rob, Spotnitz, Frank, Cartwright, Veronica, Rabwin, Paul, Rogers, Mimi and Goodwin, R.W. "Bob". (1998). The Truth Behind Season 5. [DVD]. FOX Home Entertainment.  
  11. ^ "The S Files". Soundtrack.net. May 27, 2008. http://www.soundtrack.net/features/article/?id=19. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  12. ^ "The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/x_files_2/. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  13. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes FAQ: What is Cream of the Crop". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/pages/faq#creamofthecrop. Retrieved November 29, 2009.  
  14. ^ a b "The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/xfiles_fight_the_future/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved November 29, 2009.  
  15. ^ "The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/xfiles_fight_the_future/reviews_users.php. Retrieved November 29, 2009.  
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 19, 1998). "The X-Files". Chicago Sun Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980619/REVIEWS/806190305/1023. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  17. ^ Millmann, Joyce (1998). "I want to believe". Salon magazine. http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/reviews/1998/06/cov_19reviewa.html. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  18. ^ a b Graham, Bob (October 16, 1998). "Conspiracy Marks the Spot The X-Files proves an intriguing thrill". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/10/16/DD87903.DTL. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  19. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (June 19, 1998). "'X'-tra, 'X'-tra! See All About It!". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/xfilesosullivan.htm. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  20. ^ Turan, Kenneth (June 19, 1998). "The X-Files". The Los Angeles Times. http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-movie980618-5,0,6989189.story. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  21. ^ Alspector, Lisa (1998). "The X-Files". Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-x-files/Film?oid=1054988. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  22. ^ McCarthy, Todd (June 19, 1998). "The X-Files". Variety magazine. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117906995.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  23. ^ "The X-Files: I Want to Believe". The Numbers. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2008/XFIL2.php. Retrieved September 5, 2009.  
  24. ^ "The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/x_files_2/. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  25. ^ Clark Collis (April 18, 2008). "'X-Files' creator Chris Carter wants to believe in a third movie featuring Mulder and Scully". Entertainment Weekly. http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/04/chris-carter-wa.html. Retrieved July 27, 2009.  
  26. ^ Love, Brett. "X-Files (Score)". Allmusic. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:acftxq9jldje. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  27. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "X-Files (Original Soundtrack)". Allmusic. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:kcftxq9jldje. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  28. ^ "The X Files Movie (1998) (DVD)". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/X-Files-Movie-DVD/dp/B00004D0HH/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1254257274&sr=1-1. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  29. ^ Stark, Jeff (January 16, 2001). "The X-Files: Fight the Future". Salon magazine. http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/dvd/review/2001/01/16/x_files_movie/. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  
  30. ^ "Producer: Fox Plotting to Bring X-Files Movies to Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. July 7, 2008. http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Disc_Announcements/Fox/Producer:_Fox_Plotting_to_Bring_X-Files_Movies_to_Blu-ray/1880. Retrieved September 29, 2009.  

Bibliography

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