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Movie Review

The X-Files: I Want to Believe a.k.a. “The X-Files 2,” “The X Files 2,” “The X Files: Done One,” “Los Expedientes secretos X—Quiero creer,” “Akte X: Jenseits der Wahrheit,” “Los Expedientes secretos X 2,” “Ficheiros Secretos: Quero Acreditar,” “The X-Files Movie,” “X-Files—Voglio crederci,” “X-Files: Regeneration,” “X-Files: Usko koetuksella”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material.

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery, Sequel
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 25, 2008 (3,100 theaters)
DVD release: December 2, 2008
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Child abuse—sexual

I think I was sexually abused, but I'm not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

Stories of sexual abuse

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer


How can we know there’s a God? Answer


What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

Questions and Answers about The Origin of Life Answer

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Featuring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Callum Keith Rennie, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Mitch Pileggi, Adam Godley, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Spencer Maybee, Steve Stafford, Denis Krasnogolov, Marci T. House
Director: Chris Carter
The X-Files
Producer: Chris Carter, Brent O'Connor, Frank Spotnitz
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“To find the truth, you must believe.”

Ten years after “The X-Files: Fight the Future” hit movie theaters, and six years after the television show ended its run (which Entertainment Weekly recently ranked as the fourth best show over the last twenty-five years), creator/director/co-writer Chris Carter returns his hit show to the big screen with “The X-Files: I Want To Believe.” The question about the movie this time around is basically the same as when the first movie came out: Can the film satisfy hardcore X-Philes, while at the same time appeal to those not familiar with the show?

As the movie opens, FBI agents are thoroughly searching a snow covered field for a body, possibly of a fellow agent who went missing a few days earlier. They are following Father Joe (Billy Connolly), a white-haired, former priest/convicted pedophile who claims to have had a psychic vision of where the body is located. When they begin to dig where the priest directs them, they make a grisly discover that proves the FBI agent may still be alive, and that the priest may possess an actual gift of seeing the unseen.

The agent in charge of the investigation (Amanda Peet) isn't experienced in dealing with things “otherwordly,” so she contacts former agent Scully to locate the only agent she knows who might be able to handle the case, Fox Mulder, who is living incognito far away from the lights of Washington D.C. Mulder is reluctant to help, but Scully prods him until he agrees. He does have one condition though, and that is that Scully joins him on the case.

It isn't an easy case for anyone, especially for Scully who loathes the priest for what he did in the past, and believes his psychic visions are a fraud. She is also distracted by a situation that has developed at the hospital where she now works as a respected surgeon. Father Joe can sense her trepidation and gives her a warning that Scully is none to open to receiving. When another girl goes missing, the search intensifies, and each person must confront their own inner struggles while trying to save those taken captive before the unthinkable is done to them.

Just the fact that Mulder and Scully are back will likely draw many to the theaters over the next few weeks, but is it quality entertainment for Christian audiences? The language in the film is fairly tame. There are a few uses a mild profanities, as well as a couple uses of the Lord's name in vain. Sexual content is minimal as well; one innuendo is heard, but may not be caught by many people. Father Joe is said to have molested 37 young boys, and Scully makes a crude comment about it when first meeting him. It is brought up a few times throughout the film, and one of his victims is said to have gone on to become married in a civil union to another man. Catholic priests, in general, are not really looked well upon in the film, as in another scene where a young boy in Scully's hospital mentions to her how he feels uncomfortable with the way a priest is looking at him.

Some Christians may be bothered by the political tone this movie takes on, and one scene in particular has the camera panning down the walls of the FBI office, and stops on a photo of President Bush. The sound effect that accompanies this is frankly ridiculous, and feels quite forced, taking you briefly out of the movie completely, whether you like President Bush or not. The main drawback, though, will likely be the violence. We see people getting clawed with garden utensils, severed body parts, kidnappings, bizarre surgeries, eyes dripping blood, and a gruesome offscreen death by falling onto a sharp object. I wouldn't recommend this film be seen by children or younger teenagers; its adult themes and content will likely not appeal that much to them anyway. The film carries a fairly ominous tone throughout, so parents should seriously consider whether taking their children to this movie.

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” also contains a surprising amount of spiritual content. God is mentioned more in this film than I remember seeing in any of the episodes, and each character seems to be experiencing their own inner struggles with “believing,” not in aliens, but believing in God and His way. Scully bears her soul to Mulder in one scene, saying she can't sleep because she is too busy cursing God for allowing a young patient of hers to have been born in to the world with a seemingly incurable disease. Father Joe is extremely repentant of the horrible acts he committed, and prays vigorously for God's forgiveness, not sure he will ever receive it; Scully doesn't think he deserves it anyway. Mulder must determine whether Father Joe is being used by God to lead him to the victims, or if he is simply a gifted con-artist.

For a show that boasted the famous line “Trust no one,” the movie makes the concept of trust vital to each character's survival. The idea of God sending psychic visions to a priest as a way to vindicate him for sins he committed doesn't exactly seem scriptural, but the film goes with it, nonetheless. As Christians, we know that Christ died for the sins of the world, and a repentant Father Joe would have received forgiveness from God without needing to prove himself, or earn it in any way.

This may or may not sound interesting to you. I have tried to keep the basic story fairly vague as to not reveal certain twists and turns of the plot. I must say, though, that after waiting ten years for a new movie, I was rather disappointed with the result. As a stand alone film though, it isn't full of details only the serious fan would know, so it could appeal to a broader audience. Frankly, you could pick from a hat full of old episode ideas, and I'd guess 90% of the time you'd come up with a story far more interesting than this one. There is very little urgency to what goes on in this film, and I responded to the film's lack of urgency by, well, not responding to the film at all.

It's great to see Mulder and Scully back together, and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson could take thirty years off and still have the chemistry. But the rest of the cast seems completely out of place. Amanda Peet and the rapper Xzibit (as another FBI agent) are about as believable in their roles as Kermit and Miss Piggy would have been. Billy Connolly is fine with what he has to work with, but Father Joe just simply isn't all that interesting of a character, and generates little feeling from the viewer one way or another.

During the movie, I kept thinking how if this film's story had been moved to a different, non X-File movie, and had starred anybody else instead of Mulder and Scully, I would have been bored senseless. I fidgeted watching this movie, and looked at my watch often, wishing it would end. I, personally, wanted to believe that ten years was time enough to craft an ingenious film for some of the most beloved characters in recent history, but my trust seems to have been sorely misplaced.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Prior to seeing this flick, I had no knowledge of the show's inner mechanics or workings other than the two stars’ names. Mulder and Scully.

Batta bing batta bam. This flick is a cross between… well, I can't be forthright about it, lest I give it away. But I will say this. This movie is not entirely original. It feels like an amalgamation of a few other films before its time, but oh well. Repackaged stories with Mulder and Scully are fine by me. It's a little sci-fi entertainment, so what the hey?

The excommunicated priest “Father Joe” is actually a positive note in a movie I didn't expect any spirituality in in a time where Christianity is all but blacklisted in movies. His character was (operative word being WAS) a pederast decades ago while serving as a minister. Since then, he repented of his ways and lived to be as devout to the Word and God's will as possible. Father Joe doesn't prance around like a mad man as Hollywood likes to portray Christians. Radicals. Rather, he's steadfast in his faith, both humble and contrite. He is heralded as a psychic in this movie, probably a euphemism to satisfy leftists and non-christians alike, both on and offscreen. I'll be the dude to go out on a limb and say he's not a psychic. He has visions. His character even says that. Never once was does he concede to being a psychic, much less agree to any notion of “psychic.” In the book of Joel, chapter 2, God tells us He will pour out His spirit on all mankind… young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. Is it a stretch to say a Christian can have visions? An old Christian? Not at all. It's as simple as the ones we sometimes see in prayer, even if they are allegorical.

Some of the content, particularly toward the end, is disturbing. It's handled delicately though, but still. What's shown and what's implied is unsettling, even if only marginally. Alas, this is another mark of a good story. A two-dimensional tale capable of eliciting emotion. Always a plus, considering it's confined to a screen, witnessed only by our eyes and heard through our ears.

This is a solid effort; problem with I Want To Believe is it lacks any real replay value. That's not to say this film should be passed up. I'm a just a regular ol’ moviegoer, and I don't see any reason for others to not chance it. It's just that it's a good, self-contained, one time event… for the most part anyway. I certainly wouldn't object to a 2nd viewing down the road.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jacob Keenum, age 22
Positive—My opinion of this film is positive, but only slightly so. I will not re-hash what has already been said, most of which I agree with, but will instead comment on the one positive point that I have not yet seen mentioned. I was pleasantly surprised with the view of homosexuals in this movie. This movie could make a great launching pad for a discussion of homosexuality.

First, the pedophile, former priest was repentant and seems to accept that his previous homosexual behavior (molesting of young boys) is sinful and wrong. Although at one point he seems to blame God for making him that way and giving him those sinful desires, the implication I saw in this was that if gays are born/created that way and have no choice in the matter, then the same could be said of pedophiles. What's the difference? If one's sexual desires are genetic or God-given in one case, why not in the other? This exposes the lack of rational thought in a major foundation of the LGBT agenda. Our society might be ready to apply this concept to gays, but definitely not to pedophiles and is thus forced to ask why.

Then there is the issue of at least two of the villains being gay. Very few writers in Hollywood dare to portray homosexuals in any negative light anymore. It's not politically correct. I have to commend all those involved in this movie for daring to cross that line. It's even implied that one of the villains became gay because he was molested by the priest. This makes perfect sense and again raises the issue of people not being born that way, but becoming so due to traumatic childhood experiences that cause them to question their sexuality.

Finally, the movie seems to address the issue of balancing God's mercy toward sinners and His judgment toward sin. Can the priest be forgiven for what he has done? Of course, if he is repentant and accepts Jesus’ sacrifice on his behalf. But he still has to reap what he's sown. Through his visions he is forced to face the Earthly consequences his sin brings on others, and in the end then he faces the ultimate wages of his sin—his own death.

I apparently am not the only one who saw some truth about homosexuality in this movie. The LGBT activists have recognized it and have responded by criticizing and condemning the movie. We as Christians should welcome any discussion of the topic that this film might inspire. I pray that God will use this movie to point many to His Truth and that in coming to know this Truth they will be set free from the lies of the enemy. And I thank the Lord that not only is the Truth “out there,” but He is “alive in us,” as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kevin, age 43 (USA)
Neutral—I thought this movie didn't feel like x-files. It felt more like C.S.I. With that said, I thought it had an interesting plot. The language wasn't too-too bad. All in all, I found this movie enjoyable
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Zack Foley, age 14
Neutral—I was anxious to see this film as I was a big fan of the show. I have to admit that I was disappointed after I saw it. I agree with the reviewer in that any number of episodes from the television series were more interesting.

I was slightly encouraged, in a way, in that themes of faith ran throughout the film; although, catholic clergy were portrayed in a very negative light, both Father Joe and the uncaring hospital administrators. I was most encouraged by the fact that no one seemed to dismiss the idea of God out right or to ridicule those who did believe, as is often the case in Hollywood movies. Although it is a given in the movie that God does exist, there is almost no biblical context in the film. Even as Father Joe prays for forgiveness for his past acts, the idea that he must “earn” that forgiveness through his visions is widely accepted by the characters in the film.

I thought that Scully's questions about her own faith are some that most Christians encounter at sometime, i.e. why does God allow suffering, her immediate response (to curse God) is overcome at the end of the movie when she goes acts on her faith.

The fact that I was pondering these different questions while watching this film is a testament to the overall quality of the story. Wait for the DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Andrew J. Gibbons, age 36
Neutral—As a huge X-Phile (X-Files fan), I knew from the moment I heard about this film that I wanted to see it. Even though the cast would be older and their dynamic changed over the 6 years (10 for the big screen) since we saw them last, I was absolutely certain it'd be a great ride. Well… yes and no.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of the X-Files series was the mythology, or “myth-arc,” the alien-conspiracy plotline that wove through the series and provided the backbone that supported the entire story. The last X-Files movie, Fight the Future, was a spectacular addition to that myth-arc, and I was hoping to see something along those lines with I Want to Believe. Even when I heard that I Want to Believe would be more consistent with a “Monster of the Week” episode (one with no connections to the mythology of the series) I was still excited and hopeful.

Here's where I begin to be disappointed. Yes, it's a movie starring the characters I love, back and working together again. Yay, it's an X-File, woohoo. Umm… it sure doesn't feel like an X-File. The first half of the movie was incredibly slow, and only in the last half-hour or so did it pick up and really grab my attention. Whereas most episodes of the series focused quite heavily on the case at hand, I Want to Believe focuses almost solely on Mulder and Scully, and how much (or little) they've changed. Good to know, but as a result the movie is really lacking in a certain unnamable something that made the X-Files so much fun.

Enough of the X-Phile geekiness; let's talk about the movie itself. There were a few instances of swearing, and at least one sexual innuendo besides the obvious recurring plot point. (By the way, I thought that plot point was totally unnecessary to the story.) Other than those, I found very little to be offensive. There is more gore in your average episode of ER than there is in this movie. The reference to gay marriage is so brief, that unless I'd known about it beforehand I probably wouldn't have noticed. The “bed scene” with Mulder and Scully was done very conservatively; they were covered up to their necks in a huge blanket, and it was obvious that they were not engaged in any activity. They merely spoke to each other. (There was a book with an offensive title visible in this scene, however, it was ignored by both characters.) There is the obligatory violence, but it is not over the top or very prevalent.

By the way, even though I give this movie a moral rating of Average, I do not think that it is a movie for children. It is rated PG-13 for a reason, not the least of which being the recurring theme of the pedophilic priest and the several crude comments about it. Also, there is some questioning of God going on (by Scully) but to the film's credit, she turns around and begins to believe again, which, as the title suggests, is the point anyway.

Overall, I have to give this movie a neutral rating. The minimal “offensive” content alone wasn't enough to bring down the rating from positive, but the fact that the movie just didn't have that “X-Files feel” was. By the time it started feeling like an X-File, the movie was practically over anyway. Both the characters of Mulder and Scully seemed to have lost their shine and passion, and seemed tired and old. Perhaps their newfound belief will help carry them through another movie, if one is made. Or perhaps they will just fade into oblivion, hearing nothing more of the myth-arc they and we have not yet resolved. Either way, I hope the next ride is more fun than this not-quite-up-to-par addition was. I wanted to believe… this movie just wouldn't let me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Rachel Davidson, age 19
Neutral—First let me say I loved the tv show. That said, as an X-Files “episode” I rate it a 2 on a scale of 0-10 (10 being great). As a “TV drama,” it would get an 8. After all these years to think about it you'd think Chris Carter could have come up with something a whole lot better! I won't be buying the DVD. Young children shouldn't see this one. There are Christian undertones and issues here that seem more plentiful than in X-Files of the past but nothing IMHO that is overtly Christian. Although Sculley “believes,” her and Muldur are shown in bed together-not being married. You won't be missing anything much by passing on this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Lee Rand, age 59
Negative—I did not see the other reviews mention the stem cell research theme. It was blatant and in your face for harvesting of aborted baby embryos. Hard to square this with the lives they are trying to save. The direct pot shot at Bush was so blatant that it made you want to hurl. Hard to believe these Hollywood elites can be so shameless. Just goes to show what living in the flesh will result in. No one should be surprised. I like the X-Files when it is an escape from reality. When it is one pot shot after another on conservative reality, it becomes a waste of time. Don't go see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rob Allen, age 45
Negative—I just got back from viewing the new X-Files movie. To say the least, I'm unimpressed. If you've ever seen the first X-Files movie you will see the difference. This movie was lame. There was very little profanity which is a plus compared to the original movie. I guess I expected more of a plot including government conspiracies, aliens, illuminati, etc. This movie isn't worth your money to go to a theater and see. Wait for it to come out on DVD. Even though it wasn't very good compared to the first one, it is worth seeing on DVD. This movie is not for children as their are some pretty gruesome scenes. I did find the ex-priest Father Joe's homosexual relationship to be offensive. There did seem to be a slight prejudice toward things of faith early on. But, toward the end it seemed to affirm that faith in God is good. My review, skip it at the theater and wait to watch it on DVD if you want. If you skip it altogether you won't have missed much.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ken, age 34
Negative—I am a huge fan of the X-Files TV show and the first movie, but this second movie is not worth seeing. It's not even worth renting the DVD because of the gross subject matter. It's nothing like the first movie (which was great), and I found myself turning my head many times because of the grossness of what was happening on the screen. I love me some Mulder/Scully romance, but this just left me cold. Instead of seeing this movie, watch the first X-Files movie again, or rent season 7!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Kate, age 34 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I would definitely have to agree with the statements that this movie is, in many places, rather gory for what I expected from the X-Files. I was actually surprised by some of what was shown, and I was forced on a few occasions to look briefly away from the screen. That being said, the gore was rather sporadic and momentary, and a glance away from the screen could save you from seeing that.

I would also have to agree with the fact that as far as the X-Files goes, I was quite disappointed in it as well. This movie seems to completely ignore the end of the series, as well as many of the themes of the series. In the end, it wasn't really about paranormal phenomena or the aliens/the conspiracy. It was about an average (albeit strange) serial killing. It wasn't the paranormal X-Files of old.

However, I found the spiritual side of the movie to be excellent. There were some spiritual issues that were gone through—struggling with forgiveness for oneself (in Father Joe's case) and for another person (in Scully's opinion towards Father Joe), in grappling with circumstances and the spiritual questioning that comes of many hard circumstances (in Scully's thoughts towards the young boy), the wondering if things occurring were God's will or not (as everyone wondered about Father Joe's visions). However, I think the majority of these make the spirituality believable. Many people struggle with forgiveness. When a believer receives visions, the majority of people, even including other believers, tend to question it. And in circumstances like the young boy's brain disorder, many people (once again, believers included) tend to blame God (instead of the true culprit: the devil). (And as to the bleeding of Father Joe's eyes, the friend of mine who went to see it with me pointed out that she thought of it as a stigmata.)

And, what I found most interesting, was that, in the end, Father Joe's visions were not discredited as those of some loon. Though Scully and Mulder, when they see Father Joe in the hospital, change their opinions about believing him, in the end, it's proven (and stated by Mulder) that he may have been real, and it seems that they lean towards believing that Father Joe really was receiving visions from God.

However, there were a couple of things that were somewhat spiritually offensive, but I found them to be small. One was the stem cell research/therapy, which seemed to me completely out of place for a Catholic doctor IN a Catholic hospital. That, I think, was ignorant of the writers. Another would be a mention of a gay marriage (from Massachusetts) between two of the villains of the movie. However, the mention is very brief, and from the way the two characters act, they could have easily been brothers instead of lovers. And then there's the fact that Mulder and Scully, who have presumably been living together since the last season of the X-Files, which is about 6 or 7 years, and aren't married. That, though, I thought was also just due to the ignorance of the writers and not to any statement the movie was trying to make.

In the end, though, I found “The X-Files” movie to be a great spiritual statement and a great spiritual movie. I found its statement about faith and God to be quite positive and not negative.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Catie-beth, age 16
Negative—I had high hopes for this movie, because I am a huge fan of the TV shows. I sat down to watch this with my two sisters, whose ages are 15 and 14. As the movie began, my heart started racing, I couldn't wait for the action and the weird plot to start. It never did. I was extremely disappointed with this movie. It had some very extreme moments of violence--dismemberment, impalement and scratching and slicing. The overall plot was weak—it just seemed like a jab at the religious community. The end results fall short of what the X-Files stands for. Some of this could actually happen, which makes the movie more disturbing then it is, which disgusted me.

I have seen R-Rated movies before, and the X-Files should have earned that rating. I felt awkward watching the film with my 14 year old sister, this being her favorite movie of all time. It is definitely NOT the best movie, just the quality makes it one of the worst—and kids up to age 15 should NOT watch this movie. It is too intense. Bad movie, bad morals, don't watch it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Ben Badger, age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
…Blood/Gore: Heavy… including severed heads, an arm, a dog's head, etc. …
…Gruesome ‘X-Files’ for fans only… too nightmarish and gruesome for children. At times, it reminded me of one of those “Saw” and “Hostel” films. …
—James Verniere, Boston Herald
…Predictable plot lacks history, mystery of TV cult hit… Removing everything fans of “The X-Files” loved about the show leaves precious little to believe in.
—Duane Dudek, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
…‘X-Files’ sequel is way out there… Inconsistent action and packed with cliches, this tale won't attract new believers. …
—Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
…The surprise is the film’s lack of visual distinction. …Gillian Anderson keeps it interesting, but newest chapter no improvement on predecessors…
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune