The first X-Files movie is basically a below-average episode of the TV show.

by MATT STOKES | JANARY 12, 2018

The discussion of The X-Files: Fight the Future starts at 05:46.

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In the 1990s, Hollywood’s trend of adapting television shows into movies really took off, with remakes of The Brady BunchThe Addams Family, Wild Wild West, and Lost In Space among many others. In some cases (like the Mission: Impossible movies), the film version far outshines and outpaces the source material, but just as often the film version has come and gone with little notice (The HoneymoonersDark ShadowsThe Last Airbender, dozens of others). The success of the 21 Jump Street films seemed like it would start a new era of sincere TV shows turned into self-aware movies that largely mocked the originals, but perhaps the failure of last year’s Baywatch movie has put a stop to that.

Then there are movies that serve as sequels to a defunct TV series. From my few minutes of research, I can trace this back to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which picked up the story of Captain Kirk and crew 10 years after the show had been canceled, using the same cast and taking place within the same continuity. Since then, we’ve had Jetsons: The MovieTwin Peaks: Fire Walk With MeDavid Brent: Life On the Road (sequel to the British Office), and the Star Trek: The Next Generation films, as well as The X-Files: I Want To Believe, which was released six years after the end of The X-Files show (But since the new X-Files iterations are being billed as new seasons, perhaps we should consider I Want To Believe as belonging instead to the category I’ll describe below.).

Kids TV shows will often get a movie made during their run to capitalize instantly on their popularity. RugratsHey ArnoldSpongeBobHannah MontanaLizzie McGuire, My Little Pony and countless others have had theatrically released features, but these movies very rarely become crossover hits or appeal to audiences outside the built-in fanbase. This type of movie—the movie version of a TV show being made during that show’s run—is far rarer for adult shows, but The Simpsons Movie and South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut were both decent hits, although their being animated makes them fit more easily among the kids show adaptations.

The X-Files: Fight the Future (which is technically just called The X-Files, but in the marketing is always called Fight the Future) is, as far as I can tell, the only example of a live-action, adult television show spawning a big-budget, theatrically-released feature film during its run. Fight the Future is, basically, a two-hour-long episode of the show, and is a necessary piece of the overall story the TV show tells.

But, as we discuss on the podcast, it’s not a very remarkable story, and it’s a poor attempt at trying to bring in non-fans to the series. The plot is complicated and relies on knowledge of the show, but it’s not interesting or unique enough to entice non-fans. The trappings of the show that are in this movie (the creepiness, the intruding bureaucracy, the smoke-filled room of rich white dudes who control the world, the paranoia, the two lead performances and their characters’ relationship) are so appealing that, were I not already a viewer of the show, I would want to check it out. But their execution in the film is not inspired at all, and, considered as a two- or three-part episode of The X-FilesFight the Future is a rather poor entry in an all-time great series.

The X-Files: Fight the Future

Director: Rob Bowman 

Mulder: David Duchovny
Scully: Gillian Anderson
Kurtzweil: Martin Landau
Cigarette Smoking Man: William B. Davis
Well Manicured Man: John Neville
Skinner: Mitch Pileggi


Released: June 19, 1998

Domestic Box Office: $83.9 million




Laci says…

Matt says…

The Other Movie

What other movies have we been reconsidering? 

Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River is a schlocky mess

Mystic River (2003) | Directed by Clint Eastwood | Starring Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins

Stir of Echoes is a lot like The Sixth Sense but also not at all

Stir Of Echoes (1999) | Directed by David Koepp | Starring Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas

Norman Bates? More like Charming Fellow.

Psycho (1960) | Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles

Hocus Pocus, Pile of Puke

Hocus Pocus (1993) | Directed by Kenny Ortega | Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy

The War of the Roses is here to tell you to stay in a bad marriage until you die

The War Of The Roses (1989) | Directed by Danny DeVito | Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito

Spielberg gets The Color Purple wrong, but it’s still pretty good

The Color Purple (1985) | Directed by Steven Spielberg | Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is just gaga for aliens… and you should be too!

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) | Directed by Steven Spielberg | Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr

Dude, Where’s My Car? is a mean movie about nice boys

Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000) | Directed by Danny Leiner | Starring Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner

Synecdoche, New York? More like Jolly, Good Time!

Synecdoche, New York (2008) | Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Catherine Keener

Ron Howard’s Parenthood tries to show what parenting is really like, fails

Parenthood (1989) | Directed by Ron Howard | Starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest