In 1999, X-Files fans were given something they’d long desired for the series: a full-length motion picture. Although it is still a source of much debate in the X-Files community other whether it spelled the beginning of the end of the series, the film did finally give the fans some of the answers they were seeking, even if they were never really given anything after that. Still, the full length film proved to be a successful outing for the show, with fair critical reception and a solid box office intake and countless more revenue with the amount of newcomers it brought to the series.
When a terrorist bomb destroys a building in Dallas, Texas, FBI Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy surpassing anything they’ve ever encountered. With the dubious assistance of a paranoid doctor (Martin Landau), Mulder and Scully risk their careers and their lives to hunt down a deadly virus which may be extraterrestrial in origin – and could destroy all life on earth. Their pursuit of truth pits them against the mysterious Syndicate, powerful men who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets safe, leading the agents from the cave in Texas, to the halls of the FBI, and finally to a secret installation in Antarctica which holds the greatest secret of all.
Going into this film I knew nothing about the series and it was only with the help of one of my buddies that I was given enough information to not be completely lost about what I was seeing. Strictly speaking the only reason I was watching this film was to prep myself for the sequel…well, that, and I seem to have developed a liking for Ducovhny (I blame Californication…great show), so that helped as well. Still, I had no idea what was going on for the majority of the film and yet…I still enjoyed myself.
Although I didn’t have the history of the show to bolster the relationship between Mulder and Scully, you could still feel it even with as little characterization between the two as we felt in this film. Indeed, most of the film was spent just talking, with plenty of long and dull scenes that just heaped on lore to the past four seasons of X-Files. From what I’ve read this film was the first that aliens were actually ever revealed to have existed in the universe for certain, which I guess would have been both exciting and annoying for fans of the show, to have that uncertainty finally answered. Me…I just figured there were always aliens, so it didn’t mean much to me.
What I did notice about the film, however, was that while it assumed you’d seen the series (which is a bit of a no-no, since you’re alienating a large portion of possible audience members), it still managed to keep me interested. Only once did my interest truly wane while watching the film and that was only due to my complete lack of knowledge about what the group of scary men were talking about. That still remains a big mystery to me, but oh well.
Honestly, my interest in the series is piqued more after having watched this, so I doubt that it will truly turn anyone off from watching the rest of it, although you’re really not going to benefit much from watching this film instead of watching the series first. It’s a daunting task, but one of these days I’d like to finally watch the series and I have this film to thank for piquing my interest. As a standalone film it’s a bit of a failure, but if you’ve seen the series then it’s (likely) a much smoother ride. For my money it’s a pretty decent ride in of itself, but there’s no doubt knowing more about the series would’ve aided in my enjoyment. Recommended if you want to get a taste of what the series is like, but if you can avoid it I’d just watch this film in the order it came during the series (between the fourth and fifth seasons).
It’s hard to believe such a successful series and successful film would only have one DVD release, but it’s true. The first series to really pioneer the TV-on-DVD format, X-Files season sets were once high-priced commodities that have since plummeted in price and now fans who have wanted more than just a commentary and making-of featurette will have more to check out on this Blu-ray release. Fox has released X-Files: Fight the Future in a single disc Elite Blu-ray case with inserts advertising their releases on the format as well as a notice to keep your firmware up-to-date. Disc art pulls from some visuals of the film, and menus are simple and are some of the nicer I’ve seen from Fox recently. Custom menu sounds, nice animations and easy navigation make it a much more pleasant experience to flip through than most recent Fox releases. As a side note, the disc (as well as most recent Fox releases) won’t play on my PC, as it states that my firmware needs to be updated. Since PC’s use software to decode it, I’m not sure what the issue as I’ve updated both PowerDVD and WinDVD and neither will play the discs, due to the BD+ encryption variant. Very strange.
I was surprised by just how clear this AVC encoded @ 20mbps 1080p video transfer is here. Even with films that were made in the late 90s, there is a usual age to be seen but honestly aside from the actors looking very young, there really wasn’t much here that dated the film. It looked clean and pristine and was certainly nothing I would’ve pegged as being near ten years old. Fox has consistently provided some of the most beautiful transfers on the Blu-ray format and this is another one to add to the pile. Not quite reference material because of how dark the film is, X-Files: Fight the Future is still a fine presentation of the film and is likely the best fans will have seen it up to this point.
The audio included here, a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is what you’d expect: clean and clear. The film is mostly dialogue driven so there isn’t a wealth of surround information to glean here, but there’s still some nice environmental effects in the corn fields and arctic wasteland. Plus the booming sound of the alien spaceship and other sound effects made for plenty of room rumble, so it won’t disappoint you in that area either. For the most part, however, this is a center speaker enforced mix due to the dialogue heavy element of the film. Also included are Spanish and French DD5.1 tracks, as well as English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese subtitles.
And now we move onto the good stuff! First we have the returning 1999 release extras, which include the Original 1999 Audio Commentary by Rob Bowman and Chris Carter and Original 1998 Making-of Featurette (26:53, SD). The commentary is still highly interesting and worth checking out, but the making-of is a bit of a fluff piece by today’s standards. Thankfully those aren’t the only two extras we get to check out on this new release and the biggest surprise is that we have a second commentary track to add to the first. This Audio Commentary by Rob Bowman, Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and Daniel Sackheim is also available as a BonusView: Picture-in-Picture Commentary track if your Blu-ray player is capable of handling pip content. With its retrospective nature, we’re able to get even more behind the scenes information on the film, as well as insight onto how it affected the rest of the seasons that followed it. A solid track throughout, fans will definitely want to check that one out.
Also new to this release is a series of goodies, which include Alternate Bee Sting Scene (2:19, 1080p), a new Blackwood: The Making of the X-Files (19:30, 1080i), two short featurettes on the Visual Effects (8:49, 1080i) and Scoring (5:03, 1080i) and finally a Gag Reel (2:41, 1080p) that ends with Duchovny and Anderson full-on making out, which is funny just because of how long it lasts. There is also a selection of galleries and theatrical trailers to check out as well.
Overall this is a fantastic and well-done new edition of this film that previously has only seen the single disc treatment. Fans of the series and film will definitely want to pick this one up, as it comes Recommended; great video and audio transfers and fantastic new extras definitely warrant an upgrade to this release.
X-Files: Fight the Future is now available on Blu-ray.