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As someone who has enjoyed the television series since the first season, I was more than ready for THE X-FILES ($35) to make the leap to the big screen. Fortunately, the film has been structured to appeal to fans and none fans alike, so no knowledge of the television series is required for the casual viewer. However, die-hard fans are certain to get more enjoyment out of the movie than someone with absolutely no knowledge of THE X-FILES. Sure, THE X-FILES plays like bigger, slicker, more elaborately produced two-hour episode, but then again, the television show is still on the air, which restricted the filmmaker’s ability to move the basic story outside established parameters.

FIGHT THE FUTURE, as THE X-FILES movie has been subtitled in advertising materials (but not on the film print itself), answers some of the questions raised in the series core mythology episodes, but not all of them. The plot of THE X-FILES movie follows FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson); the only agents assigned to a small bastard division of the agency known the "X Files." The "X Files" are unresolved FBI cases that cannot be explained or categorized by conventional scientific or FBI methodologies- in other words, the cases that involve the paranormal. For the five years that agents Mulder and Scully have been assigned to the "X Files," shadowy figures on the outskirts of the government have tried shutting down this troublesome investigative division of the FBI.

As the film opens, the "X Files" have been closed, with Mulder and Scully having been reassigned to an anti-terrorist unit within the FBI. As the two are in the process of investigating a bomb threat against a federal building in Dallas, Mulder decides to play a hunch and check out the building across the street. At first, it doesn’t appear as if Mulder’s hunch will pan out, that is, until he loses some change in a vending machine that contains something other than soda pop. Unfortunately, Murder’s discovery doesn't prevent a devastating explosion that destroys the building. Now, even though Mulder did discover the bomb, which saved the lives of most of the people in the building, the FBI still needs scapegoats to assign blame. As one might expect, Mulder and Scully find themselves directly at the top of the bureau's very short list. With their future at the agency looking quite limited, Mulder decides to drown his sorrows at a local bar where encounters Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), a man who claims he was a friend of his father. Kurtzweil informs Mulder that the explosion in Dallas was a setup and is directly related to the global conspiracy that he was investigating as part of the "X Files."

After corroborating at least at least part of what Kurtzweil told him, Mulder convinces Scully to help him dig deeper into the bomb blast in Dallas, which leads them directly back to an ongoing investigation they conducted as part of the "X Files." The television series claims that the truth is out there. Well, to get at the truth, Mulder and Scully go from the back alleys of Washington D.C. to an unusual Texas cornfield and finally to a remote scientific station in the Antarctic, where they uncover the scope of a conspiracy that could spell the end of humanity. The cast of THE X-FILES also features John Neville, William B. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, Jeffrey DeMunn, Blythe Danner, Terry O'Quinn, Lucas Black, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE X-FILES available on DVD in a THX certified Letterboxed presentation that unfortunately lack the 16:9 component for wide screen televisions. The terrific looking transfer recreates the film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio almost flawlessly. Colors reproduce with excellent saturation and no evidence of chroma noise or distortion. Flesh tones are very natural in appearance, plus the image is finely detailed and very sharp. Even shadow detail is quite good on this DVD. Film grain is apparent in a couple of places, but really never draws attention to itself. The disc easily reproduces blacks that are deep and true, as well as whites that are whiter than white. Additionally, contrast is superb throughout the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are a non-issue thanks to competent DVD authoring and the use of dual layer technology.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is even better than the image quality. Big explosive sound effects are balanced with lots of moody music, odd ambient sounds, as well as a general sense of atmosphere. The forward soundstage has a wide-open sound with good channel separation that wraps around into the aggressively deployed surround channels. There are a number of split surround effects, plus the track contains solid bass reproduction and natural sounding dialogue. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also provided on the DVD. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

The interactive menus feature animation, sound and very nicely designed. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, as well as the DVD’s supplements. Extras include an interesting running audio commentary with writer/producer Chris Carter and director Rob Bowman; a half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary narrated by Mitch Pileggi and three theatrical trailers.

All in all, Fox delivers a package certain to appeal to fans of THE X-FILES; the only thing that would have made this DVD truly perfect would have been the inclusion of the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement. Still, the disc looks and sounds terrific, making it a worthwhile addition to most personal DVD libraries. Now all we need is to have the episodes from the television series to be released on DVD…




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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