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.
In the 1990s, Hollywood’s trend of adapting television shows into movies really took off, with remakes of The Brady Bunch, The 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 Honeymooners, Dark Shadows, The 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 Movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, David 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. Rugrats, Hey Arnold, SpongeBob, Hannah Montana, Lizzie 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-Files, Fight 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
The Other Movie
What other movies have we been reconsidering?
Welcome To the Dollhouse (1996) | Directed by Todd Solondz | Starring Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton III, Eric Mabius
Austin Powers Series (1997, 1999, & 2002) | Directed by Jay Roach | Starring Mike Myers, Seth Green, Michael York